Archive for October, 2006
Phased Retirement: Who Opts for It and Toward What End?
Yung-Ping Chen and John C. Scott
Part-Time Pensions and Part-Time Work in Sweden
The first question that any reader who had a look at the inside cover information on this report would ask is: Why would somebody reprint a text whose major work was done exactly 10 years ago? The answer is simple and two-fold: firstly, quite simply because we have run out of books. There is still a strong demand for this publication and we have been reproducing off-print versions of the original and then the slightly updated manuscript for a number of years now. But secondly, and more importantly, because in the recent past a new wave of thinking about the future of work and how to organize the socio-economic system has found its way into the mainstream. Interestingly enough, our ideas back in 1996 are being discussed anew.
“It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.” Oscar Wilde.
“Specialization may be a great temptation for the scientist. For the philosopher it is the mortal sin.” K.R. Popper.
It is certainly the case that in recent years, conference programmes, the contents pages of magazines and the daily, weekly national and international press have been crammed full of items on the issue of social security in general, and more particularly those aspects relating to complementary social security.
In the industrialised economies, health plays a central role in the individual scale of values. As a result of the advances in medicine that have generated new expectations in the fight against disease, the demand for quality of life has become part of our daily experience. Citizens no longer accept the inevitability of illness and absolutely reject sickness and pain.
Governments are faced with a new scenario: on the one hand, citizens are prioritizing the quality of health care services, on the other health costs are constantly on the rise, as a result of scientific and technological developments in medicine and an aging population. These are the main forces behind the demand for additional health care services, the increased cost of which is to be borne by the State.
Gerontology and biology consider the process of aging a continuous, universal, progressive, intrinsic and deleterious phenomenon that can progressively reduce the capability of a certain organism to maintain its homeostasis within a given environment, increasing the risk of illness or death.
In this article, we will examine the most recent theories on the biological mechanisms of aging. We will analyze the biochemical and physiological characteristics of aged organisms and senescent cells cultured in vitro. Furthermore, we will focus on the implications of data obtained from genetic experiments, in which modified longevity is achieved in animal model systems. We will then describe some examples of human genetic disorders, in which patients show signs of premature aging. In the end, we will discuss the possible implications of these most recent discoveries for the development of anti-aging drugs.
Is the fertility decline a consequence of the growth of the welfare state? Evidence from historical data
The demographic structures of many European and Western economies are changing substantially. Low fertility and longer expected lifetimes are behind this fundamental transformation. Both are presumed to have a substantial effect e.g. on fiscal policy. In fact, ageing and fertility decline are currently considered to be the main problems in Europe and other industrialised economies. A report by the European Commission (see Oksanen 2003, p. 11) goes even so far as stating that “the increase in public expenditure is mostly caused by declined fertility and increasing longevity…”
Both ageing and fertility decline are taken as ‘facts of life’, which cannot be affected by any policies. In other words, they are exogenous. Moreover, these changes are usually considered to be ‘problems’, which sounds somewhat surprising. At least an increase in the life-span is usually thought to increase individual’s lifetime utility and well-being. Why is it now a problem?
Sweden had a special partial pension scheme between 1976 and 2001. It was one of three part-time pension schemes in the social security system. The other two were a partial early old-age pension, and a partial disability pension.
The special partial pension scheme became very popular with a high take-up rate and was criticized for being too expensive. As a part of the decision on the old age pension scheme in 1994, the partial pension scheme was made less generous, and the scheme was totally abolished from the year 2001. The other two options for combining work and receiving a pension continue.
The workforce of the United States is ageing and will continue to age, a development that is contrary to historical trends. The labour force participation rate for those aged 65-plus declined steadily from the 1950s to the 1980s, reaching 10.8% in 1985. Then, however, it increased to 12.8% in 2000. By 2015, more than 16% of those aged 65 and older are expected to be in the labour force (Toossi, 2002; 2004). The median age of the labour force increased from aged 34.6 in 1982 to 40 in 2002. Read More
Financial sustainability of social protection systems (with particular reference to retirement pensions)
The fact that the serious problems facing the European social protection system are frequently overlooked, is not an outcome of the different political or cultural viewpoints. Instead, it has more to do with a complete shift away from any link with reality. This alteration is endangering the current welfare of society and, above all, the welfare of future generations. European governments are aware of this fact, however, they are, on the whole, reluctant to take on unpopular, albeit necessary, proposals that could put the relation between production and resource consumption back on track.
Why do these EUROPEAN PAPERS ON THE NEW WELFARE exist?
Who is supporting them?
This time let us answer these questions first:
• this magazine exists because a number of people believe that the phenomenon of a longer life-cycle (extending little by little to the whole world) is a crucial factor in the present and future development of our society. This is a true revolution, concerning culture, economics, social justice, individuals, family life and political institutions. Fundamental issues are at stake: intergenerational solidarity, the capacity of the younger to better manage their future life cycle, the capacity and possibility of the older to integrate in an open society. In other words, to provide and manage hope, vision and results for everybody’s life. This ‘problematique’ (as The Club of Rome calls it) is so challenging that it should mobilize more and more all those who feel they should also look beyond their immediate interests. Read More