1887

Making the pension system less vulnerable to financial crises

The Dutch occupational pension system has been successful in securing high asset accumulation to fund generous pension promises. However, for the second time in this decade the pension system has been affected by a financial crisis and many pension funds’ assets fell below levels needed to meet regulatory requirements. Insufficient funding raises solvency issues, which could eventually lead to large fiscal costs in case of bail-outs. In response to the crisis, most funds were required by the regulator to draw up recovery plans to restore their funding over five years. This has raised concerns that the adjustment required by the regulator is unnecessarily sharp, with possibly adverse macroeconomic implications. On the other hand, OECD simulations indicate that under current policies, it is unlikely that funding rates will be secured that enable the funds over the long term to fulfil their promises of a replacement rate of up to 80% of average wages. This raises the challenge of implementing parametric changes that secure pension benefits without large detrimental effects on intergenerational equity and growth. Occupational pensions are transferable, which enhances labour market mobility. But it is often very difficult for workers to assess how one pension scheme compares to another, posing practical barriers to mobility that should be eased.

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