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Do different welfare states engender different policy preferences? Opinions on pension reforms in Eastern and Western Europe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2006

Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), The Hague.
Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), The Hague.
Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), The Hague. SEOR and Department of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


This article examines whether the different welfare states of the European Union member states engender different policy preferences and attitudes among the population. More specifically, it investigates variations in attitudes towards population ageing and pension reforms, and variations in people's retirement age preferences and expectations. It is shown that despite the different cultures and welfare traditions in the old and new member states, there are commonalities in people's value orientations and views about population ageing, not least that the vast majority are pessimistic about the consequences. In both Eastern and Western Europe, the most popular options for pensions reform are to raise taxes and to extend working life, and few favour reducing pension benefits. Despite these similarities, there are also marked attitudinal differences. Eastern Europeans rely more on their children for old-age care and are much more in favour of a pension structure in which benefits depend on the number of children. On personal expectations and preferences for retirement, it is shown that both Eastern and Western Europeans expect to retire from the labour market at an older age than the current actual retirement age.

Research Article
© 2006 Cambridge University Press

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