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Pensions at a Glance 2011

Retirement-income Systems in OECD and G20 Countries

image of Pensions at a Glance 2011

The theme of this fourth edition of Pensions at a Glance is pensions, retirement and life expectancy. Many countries have increased pension ages in the face of population ageing and longer lives. Some have introduced an automatic link between pensions and life expectancy. Improvements to the incentives to work rather than retire are also a common part of recent pension-reform packages. However, ensuring that there are enough jobs for older workers remains a challenge. 

An in-depth look at these important policy issues is provided by five special chapters on: pension ages, retirement behaviour, pension incentives to retire, the demand for older workers and linking pensions to life expectancy. This edition updates information on the key features of pension provision in OECD countries and provides projections of retirement income for today’s workers. It offers an expanded range of 34 indicators, covering the design of national retirement-income provision, pension entitlements, incomes of older people, the finances of pension systems, the demographic and economic context in which pension systems operate and private pensions. 

More countries are analysed than in previous editions, including four new members of the OECD: Chile, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia. Where possible, data are also provided for the other major economies in the G20: Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Along with data on the European Union’s 27 member states, this brings to 43 the number of economies covered in the report. 

About Pensions at a Glance...

 “An extraordinarily useful and careful compilation of pension information for a wide-range of countries, presented in a common format and following a thoughtful structure. The authors have brought cross-national pension comparisons to a new level, and they are to be commended for their intensive efforts. [This] represents some of the smartest comparative work out there, by people intimately familiar with the nuances – and complexities – of comparative pension work.” 

- Olivia Mitchell, Director of the Boettner Centre for Pensions and

Retirement Research, 
 Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

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Linking Pensions to Life Expectancy

Increases in pensionable age, described in Chapter 1 above, are only one policy response to the fact that people are living longer. Around half of OECD countries have elements in their mandatory retirement-income provision that provide an automatic link between pensions and a change in life expectancy. This is a result of: i) mandatory defined-contribution schemes substituting for or adding to public pension provision; ii) transformation of public, earnings-related plans into notionalaccounts schemes; and iii) a link between benefit levels or qualifying conditions for pensions and life expectancy. Furthermore, there has been a marked shift from defined-benefit to defined-contribution provision in voluntary, private pensions. These changes have important implications for the way the cost of providing for pensions as life expectancy increases is shared. Increasingly, this will be borne by individual retirees in the form of lower benefits. This chapter measures the degree of uncertainty inherent in projections of life expectancy. Pension entitlements for example individuals in all 34 OECD countries are calculated under different scenarios – from slow to rapid increments in longevity. These calculations are then used to assess the degree to which the additional cost of longer lives has been shifted onto future generations of retirees with longer life expectancy.

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