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Pensions at a Glance:
Public Policies across OECD Countries 2009 Edition

ISBN Number:

Publication Date:
June 2009

Pages: 280


Pension and retirement policies have changed dramatically in recent years, as governments have tried to balance the goals of adequate retirement incomes and the long-term financial sustainability of pension systems in the face of population ageing. Pensions at a Glance 2009 provides a consistent framework for comparing pension policies between countries along with reliable data.

Chapter 1 examines the implications of the present financial and economic crisis on pension systems. Which countries and which individuals are most affected? What can governments do to help and which policies should they avoid?

Chapter 2 looks at incomes and poverty of older people, looking at trends over the past two decades. In many countries, the position of pensioners has improved relative to the population as a whole, but there remain pockets of old-age poverty.

Chapter 3 updates the analysis of pension reforms in the second edition of Pensions at a Glance. How have pension systems changed in the period 2004‑08?

Chapter 4 considers coverage of voluntary private pensions, extending the analysis to look at how this varies with age and earnings. It also evaluates five different policies to expand coverage.

Country-specific highlights  Click the Country name for more details
  •  Australia: Superannuation funds have been heavily hit by the financial crisis, with real losses of 26.7% in 2008... More than one in four Australian seniors live in poverty on international measures...
  •  Austria (in German): Austria has the second highest public spending on pensions in OECD countries... The pension replacement rate (pension entitlements relative to earnings) of 80% is much higher than the OECD average of 59%...
  •  Canada: The proportion of retirement incomes coming from private pensions and other financial assets in Canada is one of the highest among OECD countries. Old-age income safety-nets are amongst the highest in the OECD, helping Canada have one of the lowest poverty levels relative to average earnings.
  •  France (en Franšais): The over-65s rely more on public transfers for their income than almost anywhere else... Reforms have substantially cut future pension benefits for today’s workers by around 20% for average earners... Coping with high public pension expenditures and population ageing will require working longer and a more diversified retirement-income system...
    See also Pensions in France and abroad: 7 key indicators 
  •  Germany (in German): The German pension system has so far been less affected by the crisis than many other OECD countries... Replacement rates for low-earners are the lowest within the OECD at 43.0%...
  •  Ireland: Ireland’s private pension funds have been heavily hit by the financial crisis, with real losses of 37.5% in 2008... More than 30% of Ireland’s pensioners live in poverty (on international measures)...
  •  Italy (in Italian): Italy had the highest public pension spending of OECD countries... Legislated changes that would have increased the pension age and reduced benefits to reflect increased life expectancy have been postponed...
  •  Japan: Japan is the OECD’s ‘oldest’ country, with just 2.6 people, of working age for every person aged over 65... Public pensions in Japan are projected to provide the second lowest pensions relative to individual earnings of OECD countries. 
  •  Korea: The old-age dependency ratio in Korea will increase by over 400% in the next 45 years... More than 45% of Korea’s pensioners live in poverty, on international measures; this is the highest old-age poverty rate among OECD countries.
  •  United Kingdom: The proportion of retirement income package from voluntary private pensions in the UK is the highest among OECD countries... Public pensions in the UK are projected to provide the lowest pensions relative to individual earnings of OECD countries.
  •  United States: The United States’ private pension funds have been heavily hit by the financial crisis, with real losses of 26.2% in 2008... Nearly one in four US seniors live in poverty on international measures.

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