Pension Reforms

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Welfare State Politics in the Context of Austerity and Europeanization: Are European Social Welfare Systems Converging?

Ludovic Walter, Duke University Political Science Department Undergraduate Honors Thesis (2006)



Introduction: 3 Chapter 1: Theoretical Framework: Review of Main Theories Chapter 2: Pension Systems and Reform Effort 41 62 9

Chapter 3: Content of major reforms and the technocratic hypothesis Chapter 4: Veto Player Analysis 94 114 125

Chapter 5: Partisan Approach to Welfare State Politics Chapter 6: Configurative Approach to Welfare Politics Chapter 7: Convergence in the European Union? Summary and Reflections 162 145



The development of welfare states is an issue that has received considerable attention both in the social science field and public debates. Until about 20-30 years ago, the “golden age” of welfare state was a period highlighted by governments’ willingness to expand pension expenditure as the systems raised more contributions than necessary to finance pensioners’ benefits. However, this situation no longer applies. Nowadays, governments attempt to cut pension expenditures, or at least contain their expansion as the general population’s life expectancy is constantly increasing. This study will attempt to answer several fundamental questions through the analysis of pension system developments in four countries (France, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) since the early 1980s. How do European countries reform their pension system in a situation where they face similar challenges, but have different capacities and configurations of actors’ interests to cope with them? This central question, which I seek to address through my research, is interesting because most European countries are confronted with similar demographic prospects, including an ever-increasing life expectancy, and sharply reduced fertility rates from the 1980s. The challenge has become the same for all countries: how...