This monograph surveys the results of government intervention in the market for retirement income provision throughout the world. The authors begin by looking at high-income democracies in which governments have, to a large degree, taken over the function of providing pensions. They find that state provision crowds out private provision and places a considerable fiscal burden on developed country governments. This fiscal burden is then combined with complex regulatory systems that are imposed on the private sector and which make pensions incomprehensible. Furthermore, as the authors show, the ageing populations may make meaningful reform of government pensions programmes impossible, as 'grey' electors flex their muscles. The authors find the same patterns in middle-income and low-income countries. State pension systems are often found hand-in-hand with a lack of security, partly because of the problems of corruption and inflation. The state frequently does its best to crowd out private initiative, but, where they are allowed to, families make provision for retirement in all sorts of ingenious ways. The authors reject the World Bank blueprint of formal, structured pension systems. They suggest instead that governments focus on ensuring that the legal and financial infrastructure exists to allow people to make proper provision for their retirement. So-called 'market failure' will always ensure that the result is imperfect. But, by comparison, government failure around the world has had catastrophic effects.
|Publication date:||28th October 2008|
|Publisher:||Institute of Economic Affairs|
Philip Booth is editorial and program director at the Institute of Economic Affairs and a professor of insurance and risk management at Cass Business School. He worked for the Bank of England as an advisor on financial stability issues and has written widely, including a number of books, on investment, finance, social insurance, and pensions, as well as on the relationship between Catholic social teaching and economics. He is editor of economic affairs and associate editor of the Annals of Actuarial Science and the British Actuarial Journal. Oskari Juurikkala is a Research Fellow with the Institute of Economic Affairs, and ...More About Philip Booth