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Pathways of pension reform in Europe; Sweden, Italy, Poland and the UK in comparative perspective, since c.1990


This research project is dedicated to the study of pathways of pension reform in Europe. It concentrates on four countries (Sweden, Italy, Poland and the UK), which were deliberately selected to encompass the variety of welfare regimes existing across the continent, as well as the main types of pension reforms that occurred over past decade. The project proposes the application of a new conceptual and methodological framework, centred on the classification of pension systems and reforms according to the logic of distribution of rights and resources underpinning each institutional arrangement.

The framework was conceived to capture the dynamics of pension regimes by systematically evaluating the impacts of changes in the rules regulating the distribution of pension entitlements, costs and benefits across social groups and generations. After a detailed study of pension rules, the project will locate pension systems in each country within the classificatory framework and evaluate how individual national systems changed over time.

This will facilitate a quantitative assessment of the distributional impacts of pension reform by comparing changes in the lifecycle gains and losses of individuals belonging to different birth cohorts, gender and income groups under each pension regime. By combining the incidence of costs, benefits, and eligibility conditions over the entire lifespan of a number of stylised individuals, the research will estimate the intra and inter-generational transfers operated by the pension system and the changes in the amount and direction of these transfers resulting from pension reform. The findings of the research will enhance comparative analysis on the nature and impacts of pension reform across Europe, will contribute to understanding the process of convergence of European welfare policy and outcomes, and will address a gap in the social policy literature, informing policy decisions at the national and Euro.

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