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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article addresses the role of organized labour in shaping pension design and retirement policy. Several distinctive aspects of American organized labour's experience with pensions – heavy reliance on an employer-based pension system, limited union bargaining power, shifts in pension design towards individual-based accounts, union association with ‘legacy costs’, and investment activism by labour unions – serve as models for many international pension-reform ideas. Moreover, since international pension reform generally aims to reduce government pension benefits, proposals often involve diminishing state obligations by expanding employer-based pensions. In this regard, the American unions support the defined benefit design, and international unions have very similar principles for pension design. Thus, although this article focuses on the United States, much of US experience is relevant to labour's advocacy for pensions in Europe and Latin America.

Keywords: organized labour, pension plans, retirement policy, pension system, individual-based accounts, defined benefit

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