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Coping with demographic change : macroeconomic performance and welfare inequality effects of public pension reform

  • Devriendt, Willem
  • Heylen, Freddy
  • Jacobs, Arthur
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2023
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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This paper evaluates alternative reforms of the public pension system in an overlapping generations model for an open economy facing demographic change. We make progress compared to existing literature on pension reform by modelling individuals with heterogeneous innate ability and endogenous human capital, and by putting (the reduction of) welfare inequality effects of reform at the centre. Frequently adopted reforms such as an increase of the normal retirement age or a decrease of the pension benefit can guarantee financial sustainability, but they fail when the objective is also to avoid intergenerational or intragenerational welfare inequality. Our results prefer a reform which combines an increase of the retirement age with an intelligent linkage between the pension benefit and earlier labour earnings. First, this design conditions pension benefits on past individual labour income, with a high weight on labour income earned when older and a low weight on labour income earned when young. Second, this linkage is complemented by a strong rise in the benefit replacement rate for low ability individuals (and a reduction for high ability individuals).

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