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Governing Pensions: Historical Perspectives on Britain and France

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Abstract:

The first post-war pensions crisis arrived in the late 1950s as demographic trends and pensioner poverty forced re-appraisals of state schemes. Earnings-related state pensions were introduced in Germany (1957) and in Sweden (1960). In contrast, the Netherlands revised its citizenship pension (1957) to support sectoral occupational pension funds.. Here, policy secured earnings-related supplementation by private sector: albeit with guarantees that obliged firms to pool pension funds and to guarantee pension security to those who changed jobs or whose firm went into liquidation. In Britain and France, established occupational schemes were also the mainstay of pension reform, albeit with different results.

In both countries at this time, occupational systems had developed alongside the public scheme. French labour law allowed the government to extend the remit of industrial agreements, thus occupational pensions were organised into associations guaranteeing pensions within specific sectors. In 1961, a national collective agreement created an umbrella organisation extending compulsory occupational cover nation-wide (ARRCO). This jointly managed scheme guaranteed individual pensions, calculated according to previous salary and contribution years. In contrast, the promotion of private pensions by the British Treasury encouraged the spread of funded occupational cover with minimal intervention from the state (scotching the Labour government’s funded National Superannuation Scheme in the 1960s). Occupational cover peaked in 1967 at around 50% of the working population. British schemes were criticised by the French for uneven coverage, their discouragement of labour mobility and their failure to protect workers of bankrupt firms. In return, Whitehall criticised French policy for imposing unwarranted constraints on employers and for sustaining a PAYG orientation.

Using perspectives developed by Boltanski & Thevenot and Amartya Sen, this paper analyses the discursive frameworks within which pension policies were discussed, which explains why – in spite of their utilisation of similar agencies for policy purposes – subsequent policies promoted by each state diverged to so great an extent in ensuing years. In so doing, the story is brought up to date and the factors underpinning trajectories of path dependency stand revealed. Pension governance (who participated in debates and under what authority) forms the focus for this approach.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

pension (100), social (61), state (56), public (46), collect (44), polici (43), differ (39), govern (38), scheme (38), polit (33), institut (30), secur (30), employ (30), action (28), co (26), franc (26), co-ordin (24), protect (24), ordin (24), convent (23), offer (23),
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Association:
Name: Seventeenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies
URL:
http://www.ces.columbia.edu


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p400256_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Whiteside, Noel. "Governing Pensions: Historical Perspectives on Britain and France" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Seventeenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies, Grand Plaza, Montreal, Canada, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p400256_index.html>

APA Citation:

Whiteside, N. "Governing Pensions: Historical Perspectives on Britain and France" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Seventeenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies, Grand Plaza, Montreal, Canada Online <PDF>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p400256_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: The first post-war pensions crisis arrived in the late 1950s as demographic trends and pensioner poverty forced re-appraisals of state schemes. Earnings-related state pensions were introduced in Germany (1957) and in Sweden (1960). In contrast, the Netherlands revised its citizenship pension (1957) to support sectoral occupational pension funds.. Here, policy secured earnings-related supplementation by private sector: albeit with guarantees that obliged firms to pool pension funds and to guarantee pension security to those who changed jobs or whose firm went into liquidation. In Britain and France, established occupational schemes were also the mainstay of pension reform, albeit with different results.

In both countries at this time, occupational systems had developed alongside the public scheme. French labour law allowed the government to extend the remit of industrial agreements, thus occupational pensions were organised into associations guaranteeing pensions within specific sectors. In 1961, a national collective agreement created an umbrella organisation extending compulsory occupational cover nation-wide (ARRCO). This jointly managed scheme guaranteed individual pensions, calculated according to previous salary and contribution years. In contrast, the promotion of private pensions by the British Treasury encouraged the spread of funded occupational cover with minimal intervention from the state (scotching the Labour government’s funded National Superannuation Scheme in the 1960s). Occupational cover peaked in 1967 at around 50% of the working population. British schemes were criticised by the French for uneven coverage, their discouragement of labour mobility and their failure to protect workers of bankrupt firms. In return, Whitehall criticised French policy for imposing unwarranted constraints on employers and for sustaining a PAYG orientation.

Using perspectives developed by Boltanski & Thevenot and Amartya Sen, this paper analyses the discursive frameworks within which pension policies were discussed, which explains why – in spite of their utilisation of similar agencies for policy purposes – subsequent policies promoted by each state diverged to so great an extent in ensuing years. In so doing, the story is brought up to date and the factors underpinning trajectories of path dependency stand revealed. Pension governance (who participated in debates and under what authority) forms the focus for this approach.


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