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The New Politics of the Welfare State$
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Paul Pierson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198297567

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198297564.001.0001

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The Comparative Political Economy of Pension Reform

The Comparative Political Economy of Pension Reform

(p.305) 10 The Comparative Political Economy of Pension Reform
The New Politics of the Welfare State

John Myles (Contributor Webpage)

Paul Pierson

Oxford University Press

This is the first of three chapters on the distinctive policy dynamics of particular areas of social provision. In their chapter on the dynamics of pension reform, Myles and Pierson stress a key feature of public pension systems: the fact that the implications of policy choices only play out over a very long period of time. Almost all pension systems are undergoing major reforms, yet choices made twenty‐five or fifty years ago profoundly shape the nature of the reform options available now. Most countries are severely constrained in their options by the accumulated commitments from decades of experience with social insurance; only where countries failed to develop large pay‐as‐you‐go pension systems at these earlier junctures has the much‐heralded alternative of introducing extensive funded arrangements proven to be a viable option. Myles and Pierson also emphasize the need to legitimate often politically painful revisions to this key element of the post‐war social contract — while there has been major change everywhere, in almost all countries this has required broad negotiations, including left‐of‐centre parties and/or labour unions.

Keywords:   constraints, negotiation, pension reform, pension systems, policy dynamics, political economy, public pension systems, social insurance, social provision, welfare state, welfare state reform

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