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date: 24 May 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Welfare states within the traditional OECD area arranged their pension systems after 1945 so that complete exit from paid employment during an ever-longer retirement period became a universal entitlement. The institutionalization of old-age pensions in the OECD area resulted from an expansion of pension systems in several dimensions: coverage was broadened to almost the entire (working) population, eligibility criteria for enjoying a pension became liberalized (e.g. flexible retirement), the range of benefits was expanded (e.g. survivors’ pensions) and, most importantly, the generosity of benefits substantially increased. This chapter describes the origins, organization, and social consequences of mature pension systems in the developed welfare states; discusses the challenges posed to these systems by demographic, economic, and societal transformations occurring since the 1970s; and traces trajectories of reform, both actual and anticipated. Throughout, our focus is on the pension systems of the rich democracies of Western Europe, North America, and the Antipodes, with more selective attention given to developments in Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe.

Keywords: pensions, pension reform, retirement, Europe, welfare, old age, ageing

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