Ageing and Income

Financial Resources and Retirement in 9 OECD Countries

This landmark study of the material well-being of older people in nine OECD countries -- Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States -- uses a wealth of new data to shed light on the challenges that face policy-makers as they anticipate the coming retirement of the baby-boom generation. The findings are often surprising.

In all the countries surveyed, policies have been fundamentally successful: older people at all income levels tend to maintain or even increase their material standards of living once they stop working. This happens despite large differences in approaches to public policy, including the size of public pensions. The systems that provide resources to older people are considerably more complex than is usually taken into account in policy-making, and the effects of policy, while large, are less direct than often thought.

Demography and changing labour market patterns make reforms to these systems imperative. The challenge is to make needed changes without undermining past success. This is difficult, but entirely possible; the payoffs from relatively small changes in the balance between work and retirement could be particularly large.

The study examines the many diverse ways in which the nine countries are tackling this challenge and the lessons that have been learned from their experiences. It provides invaluable evidence for policy-makers, researchers and citizens concerned about the challenges posed for societies by ageing populations.

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