Protecting Pensions

Policy Analysis and Examples from OECD Countries

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Pension fund members across OECD countries have seen the loss or reduction of pension benefits in recent years. This has been associated with declining assets and increasing liabilities, with accounting and regulation changes crystallising these problems. Consequently, the issue of how to protect pension benefits has returned as a major topic of policy debate for many governments and for the pension industry worldwide. OECD countries have responded in different ways:

  • Re-examining and altering accounting and funding rules;
  • Strengthening or introducing pension benefit guarantee schemes; and
  • Looking at the related issue of whether pension benefits should receive protection in bankruptcy and insolvency procedures.

Finally, debate has also focused on whether pension fund related risks can or should be shared, with guarantees for insured or pension products attracting renewed attention.

This volume looks at various methods of protecting pension benefits. It provides in-depth information on the application of these methods in OECD countries and analyses their advantages and drawbacks. Methods of risk sharing amongst pension fund beneficiaries, providers and sponsors are discussed through an analysis of insured pension contracts and of the pension systems in place in Denmark and Iceland. This publication offers unique international comparative and analytical data for policy makers and pension industry participants globally.




Occupational pension plans – employment-based arrangements – have historically played a key role in the retirement income systems of many OECD countries. Even today, these plans cover most workers in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. As shown in Figure 1, the coverage rates of occupational plans in these countries are above 90 percent of the workforce, which can be explained by their mandatory (by law or statute) or quasi-mandatory nature (as a result of bargaining at the national or industry-wide level). Occupational pension plans are mandatory in Finland, Iceland, Switzerland and, since 2006, in Norway. In these four countries, employers must establish pension plans and employees are obliged to join them.


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