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Journal Articles Social Policy and Administration Year : 2007

When Past Reforms open New Opportunities:


France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Spain have all gone through several waves of pension reforms both in the 1990s and in the early 2000s. Comparing the politics of these reforms shows some similar trends: reforms were usually postponed until European integration and/or economic recession forced governments to act. Before the first wave of reforms, the main form of ‘action’ had been to increase payroll taxes to finance pensions. In the 1990s, reforms were usually negotiated on the basis of a quid pro quo: benefits were intended progressively to decrease in exchange for non-contributory pensions being financed from general tax revenues instead of through the insurance schemes. The second wave of reforms (during the 2000s) seems to have brought more innovation, with new goals such as the development of voluntary private pension funds and the need to increase employment rates among the elderly and to stop early retirement. The article aims, first, to trace the political processes leading to these reforms; second, to reveal the commonalities in these processes between the various cases; and third, to highlight the differences between the first and second waves of pension reform. It will emphasize the role of ‘sequencing’ and demonstrate how each pension reform facilitates the adoption of the next one.

Dates and versions

hal-03415969 , version 1 (05-11-2021)



Giuliano Bonoli, Bruno Palier. When Past Reforms open New Opportunities:: Comparing Old Age Insurance Reforms in Bismarckian Welfare Systems. Social Policy and Administration, 2007, 41 (6), pp.555 - 573. ⟨10.1111/j.1467-9515.2007.00572.x⟩. ⟨hal-03415969⟩
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