Disputation: Laure Doctrinal


Datum: fredag 24 mars 2023

Tid: 10.00 – 12.00

Plats: Hörsal 3, Södra huset

Laure Doctrinal, doktorand i sociologi vid Institutet för social forskning (SOFI) och Sociologiska institutionen vid Stockholms universitet, försvarar sin avhandling i sociologi.

Avhandlingens titel: "Old and unequal? An institutional analysis of pension systems’ driving forces and outcomes in affluent OECD countries"
Tid: 24 mars 2023. 10:00
Plats: Sal 3, Södra huset
Opponent: Susan Kuivalainen

Keywords: pension privatization, retirement, inequality, economic independence, social sustainability, gender, partisan politics, social policy, welfare states, pension systems



The growing privatization of old-age pension systems in many high-income countries in the late 20th century has raised serious concerns regarding their social sustainability. Compared to public pensions, private pensions tend to be associated with greater income inequality and less economic well-being. Yet, little is known regarding the role of pension privatization for trends in income inequality and economic well-being among the retired. This thesis comprises three empirical studies, which together aim at investigating the driving forces and the redistributive outcomes of pension privatization in a selection of high-income countries over the period 1980–2018. Study I assesses the role of partisan politics in shaping trends in pension privatization in seventeen high-income countries over the years 1980–2017. Results from time-series cross-sectional analyses reveal a negative association between left government historical legacy and trends in pension privatization. Contemporary left parties in government are associated with less privatization only in the context of a strong left-wing legacy. Thus, the findings show that partisan politics matter for pension policy also in times of welfare state restructuring. Study II asks to what extent the expansion of private pensions affects changes in income inequality among the retired. Decomposition analyses by income source of household incomes around 1986 and 2018 highlight an interesting paradox. While higher shares of private pensions in retirement incomes have had a substantial inequality-increasing effect, overall income inequality among the retired has not necessarily increased. Variations in the share and distribution of other income components, as well as in the distribution of private pensions, explain this paradox. This finding points to the relevance of considering the interplay of the different income sources to address income inequality in retirement, which implies to consider policies beyond the realm of pension policy. Study III analyzes the developments affecting economic independence among newly retired women and men in fifteen high-income OECD countries during the period 1986–2018. Results reveal the convergence in the proportion of newly retired women and men reaching economic independence. Results from time-series cross-sectional analyses show that trends in economic independence are not related to pension privatization among women, nor among men. Minimum public pensions are associated with increased economic independence of both newly retired women and men. Economic independence is also more common among newly retired cohorts of women with gainful work histories and parental leave duration in their prime working years. Taken together, the findings from the three studies highlight that partisan politics matter for changes in old-age pension systems, which in turn shape patterns of income inequality and economic independence among the retired. These findings contribute to nuance some of the expectations regarding the negative redistributive outcomes of increased pension privatization. Future research should further explore these dynamics, as some of the processes that came to compensate or outweigh private pensions’ redistributive outcomes are likely to even out in the years to come.


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