Together with Pieter Vanhuysse from the European Centre Vienna (now at Syddansk Universitet), I edited the volume
Ageing Populations in Post-industrial Democracies: Comparative Studies of Politics and Policies
London: Routledge (ECPR studies in European Political Science).
Publishing date: 2012
Most OECD democracies are currently experiencing accelerated population ageing. This fundamentally changes not just their demographic composition: it also can be expected to have far-reaching political and policy consequences. This volume brings together an expert set of scholars to investigate generational politics and public policies within an explicitly comparative political science approach. The book opens important political process black boxes by asking a number of central questions. How does population aging change political support for redistribution towards different age groups in society, including not just elderly people but also families with children? How, and when, do established parties in aging democracies implement policies that directly hurt the interests of the growing elderly voting bloc but are needed to safeguard the fiscal viability of the welfare state, such as pension generosity cutbacks and retirement age increases? Where, and when, do new ‘grey parties’ emerge on the political scene in Western and Eastern Europe and what, if anything, makes such pensioner parties persist over time? The answers provided in this volume promise to be of major interest both to public policy decision-makers and to scholars in fields such as political economy, political sociology, social policy, comparative politics, demography, and democratic political theory.
We are very happy to have brought together an excellent group of political scientists and political sociologists. Prof Robert B Hudson from Boston University kindly agreed to write the overarching epilogue.
Reviews (by November 2013)
Japanese Journal of Political Science
‘Aging is one of the most important issues in developed countries, and this book discusses it from various points of view. The issue is particularly serious in Japan; the monograph notes that Japan’s ‘old age dependency ratio’ (population over 65 /population between 15 and 64) will be 83.1% in 2040 — the highest among OECD countries. Japanese scholars, policymakers, and politicians have long been discussing this problem, but this book offers empirical analyses from an international perspective, making comparisons of the situation faced by many countries, including Japan…Most of cases dealt with in the book are European, but there are many similarities to cases in Japan. This book compiled by younger scholars is extremely valuable when thinking of reforms in post-industrial democracies, including Japan.’
Tidsskrift for velferdsforskning
Ageing & Society
‘Ageing Populations in Post-industrial Democracies makes a major contribution towards addressing this paucity of data and empirically informed argumentation in an area that has raised so much interest and controversy in recent decades, but until now remained largely unexplored territory in the literature. … the chapters amount to a firm rejection of the ‘grey power’ hypothesis and the ‘war of generations’ stereotype, with the complexity of generational politics convincingly highlighted … Ageing Populations in Post-industrial Democracies has provided a tantalising invitation for advancing an increasingly important field of scholarship and is essential reading for graduate students and researchers working on this topic.’
Bulletin of Italian Politics
‘a wide-ranging collection of comparative essays, covering pension politics and regimes, spending patterns, pensioner parties, family policy and intergenerational justice. … (this) volume formulates a number of questions whose salience is on the rise in the wake of the third decade of ‘permanent austerity’ and the consequent intensification of the demographic challenge. Is there a mounting generational cleavage influencing party politics in Western and Eastern countries? … Rather than providing definitive answers, the contributors provide stimulating thoughts for reflection, setting the agenda for future research on the politics of ageing.’
Canadian Journal of Sociology
‘Ageing Populations in PostIndustrial Democracies … helps us understand population ageing in a global context by illustrating the ways in which politics and institutions matter across countries and welfare regimes. This collection finds striking differences in the politics and policies of different countries. Accordingly, it fails to support convergent arguments that the demographic and economic pressures related to population ageing will lead to similar political action among OECD countries. This collection implores us to move beyond convergent presumptions about ageing populations in OECD countries and to appreciate the influence of political institutions.’
Canadian Public Policy
‘This is a great addition to the Studies in European Political Science series .. taking an explicitly comparative political science approach. … A main theme of the book is the interplay of demographic and fiscal considerations with political variables in the evolving adaptation to aging populations. … In some regards, the similar demographics and fiscal constraints among European countries push in the same direction, but at the same time there is path dependency based on existing institutional and policy frameworks in each country. … Achim Goerres and Pieter Vanhuysse observe in the introductory chapter that the increase in life expectancy and the relative size of the elderly population bring into question the very basis of the welfare state’
Intergenerational Justice Review
‘a collection of articles which examine different aspects of the relationship between age and political power in advanced nations. In particular, several of the papers question whether older people show a greater inclination to vote following their logical self-interest, in support of parties who promise them more generous age- related benefits, or whether their voting decisions are based on a more complex range of factors. … compelling evidence that some aspects of government policy are affected by the age of the electorate (particularly pension reform and generosity), while it seems that the interests of the elderly are not necessarily privileged during the design of labour market reforms.’
Journal of European Social Policy
‘Pieter Vanhuysse and Achim Goerres wish to shed light on the consequences of population ageing – one of the major policy challenges in advanced democracies. … the volume offers a much-needed broadening of the research agenda related to generational politics. … One of the merits of this book is to demonstrate that to fit the label ‘generational politics’ the research agenda should comprise the life-course from the cradle to the grave. … Ranging from small-n comparative case studies to formalistic, model-based analyses the contributions represent different ontological and methodological traditions. This methodological pluralism is refreshing and gives room for an inventive exploration of issues that a more stringent conceptual framework would most likely have rendered out of range.’
Political Studies Review
‘The intergenerational conflict of interests is often framed in terms of a ‘war of generations’ … this book offers eleven chapters that sketch a more nuanced picture, by answering a wide variety of questions with different methods and at different levels of analysis. …. This plurality of approaches is where the strength of the book lies; it allows the reader to understand the issue on many different levels. The volume provides important findings for those interested in the politics of ageing democracies, and the editors do an excellent job of placing the contributions within the larger debates in the literature.’
Swiss Political Science Review
This timely volume … adds to our knowledge about generational politics and welfare state politics in the following aspects. First, a simple distinction between “old” and “new” welfare politics is of limited use in understanding political dynamics of ageing population. … Second, generational politics is not a zero-sum game based on short-term material interests. … Third, despite varying degrees of influence, all chapters show that domestic political institutions and policy legacies play an important role in mediating convergence pressures. … Ageing Populations in Post-Industrial Democracies represents a competent venture into a relatively unchartered terrain from a comparative political science perspective. This book provides a wide range of interesting and nuanced findings to learn from and puzzle over.’
Find below three chapters (1, 6, 8) as sample material from the SSRN.
Table of Contents:
1. MAPPING THE FIELD: COMPARATIVE GENERATIONAL POLITICS AND POLICIES IN AGING DEMOCRACIES
Achim Goerres and Pieter Vanhuysse
2. EXPLAINING THE SUCCESS OF PENSIONERS’ PARTIES: A QUALITATIVE COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF 31 POLITIES
Sean Hanley (University College London, UK)
This chapter provides a first-ever comprehensive investigation of the emergence and success of pensioners’ parties in both established Western European democracies and in Central and Eastern Europe. It examines both the potential ‘demand’ for pensioners’ parties generated by demographic change and patterns of welfare spending, and the regulation of their ‘supply’ by national political opportunity structures. Using Qualitative Comparative Analysis, pensioners’ parties are found to have had some success in states that combine adequate levels of self-organization of older people with a high level of pro-elderly welfare spending. But in addition, in Western Europe successful pensioner parties further require a high general incidence of new parties, while in Central and Eastern Europe they emerge when high levels of elderly-oriented welfare spending are combined with adequate levels of civic infrastructure for older people.
3. RHETORIC AND ACTION ON AGING IN THE WORLD’S ‘OLDEST’ DEMOCRACIES: PARTY PLATFORMS AND LABOR POLICIES IN GERMANY, ITALY, AND JAPAN
Jennifer Dabbs Sciubba (Rhodes Colleges, Memphis, USA)
This chapter examines established party platforms and labor policies in Germany, Italy, and Japan and finds that older workers have not been the main beneficiaries of recent reforms. Parties and governments have worked actively to combat the negative ramifications of population aging, going against what pluralist theories would have us expect, and they have discussed how best to keep the budget balanced in the face of growing dependents and how to tap into underutilized segments of the labor market. For instance, important recent labor reforms in each of these three cases have either tried to increase the labor force participation of older workers, shortened the length of time unemployment benefits are available to older workers, or aimed at bringing youth into the labor market.
4. LIVE LONGER, WORK LONGER? INTERGENERATIONAL FAIRNESS IN RETIREMENT AGE REFORMS IN GERMANY AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Martin Hering (McMaster University, Canada)
How can governments enact widely unpopular increases in the official retirement age? This chapter analyzes recent pension reforms in two very different pension systems facing similar demographic challenges, Germany and the United Kingdom. The reforms led to surprisingly similar outcomes characterized by a degree of intergenerational burden sharing. The chapter argues that these reforms could happen only due to a triple combination of: (1) high profile expert commissions that were concerned with intergenerational fairness and which recommended a retirement age increase; (2) governments that were committed to both fiscal sustainability and old age poverty prevention; and (3) grand pension reform coalitions that used classic blame-avoiding strategies.
5. PENSION REGIMES, GENDER AND GENERATIONAL INEQUALITIES: THE PERSISTENCE OF INSTITUTIONAL DIFFERENCES IN AGING POSTINDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACIES
Mehmet F. Aysan (University of Western Ontario, Canada)
This chapter argues that despite strong demographic pressures and numerous reforms, pension systems in 19 OECD countries at the beginning of the 21st century can still be characterized by four regimes that correspond to the more general, historically grown welfare regimes. The chapter also explores inequalities between age and gender groups across and between pension regimes. In sum, institutional differences still persist, and they significantly affect social realities at old age.
6. ACCELERATING SMALLER CUTBACKS TO DELAY LARGER ONES? THE POLITICS OF TIMING AND ALARM BELLS IN OECD PENSION GENEROSITY RETRENCHMENT
Markus Tepe (University of Oldenburg, Germany) and Pieter Vanhuysse
This chapter investigates the politics of delays in pension generosity cutbacks in 18 OECD democracies between 1981 and 1999, using event history analysis. Investigating both medium-size and large cutbacks, we test whether, in addition to conventional demographic and economic variables, political-institutional variables capturing partisanship (ideology), electioneering (cycles), and institutional constraints (rigidity) contribute to explain the timing of cutbacks. While the latter two factors do not have any significant effect, more rightwing governments tend to implement pension generosity cutbacks significantly earlier. Moreover, higher unemployment and population aging tend to delay large-size pension generosity cutbacks, but to accelerate medium-size cutbacks. Both variables may function as alarm bell signals, urging policymakers to accellerate the implementation of incremental ‘muddling-through type’ retrenchment, perhaps to longer delay politically highly risky radical retrenchment.
7. POPULATION AGING, THE ELDERLY, AND THE GENEROSITY OF STANDARD AND MINIMUM PENSIONS
Juan F. Fernández (Social Science Research Centre Berlin, Germany)
This chapter investigates standard and minimum pension replacement rates in 21 affluent democracies between 1980 and 2002. Consistent with a beneficiaries approach suggesting that the elderly act as an interest-based political bloc, countries with a larger share of elderly voters award substantially more generous pensions to the average workers – but less generous pensions to individuals who had not contributed to the social security system. When acting as an interest group, the elderly may support a retirement income system with minimum pension programs that award reduced benefits. This way, they ensure the existence of complementary public earnings-related tiers, which provide more generous pension benefits to seniors of all classes.
8. THE FAMILY AND THE WELFARE STATE: THE IMPACT OF PUBLIC PROVISION FOR FAMILIES ON YOUNG PEOPLE’S DEMAND FOR PUBLIC CHILDCARE ACROSS 21 NATIONS
Achim Goerres and Markus Tepe (University of Oldenburg, Germany)
Public childcare is a social policy area with genuinely generational implications. Therefore, it is ideally suited to test whether popular support is motivated not only by age-based self-interest, but also solidarity towards other generations. The analysis of survey data from 21 OECD countries suggests that young people’s demand for public childcare is embedded in welfare state institutions, personal family structures and the socially constructed nexus between the family and the welfare state. Practically, this study yields that individuals do not only demand social policies on purely egoistic grounds, but also out of concern for the burden on other family generations.
9. COHORT, CLASS AND ATTITUDES TO REDISTRIBUTION IN TWO LIBERAL WELFARE STATES: BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES, 1996–2006
Jonas Edlund and Stefan Svallfors (Umea University, Sweden)
Institutional analysis tends to assume uniform and stable popular support for the welfare state within one welfare regime. However, this cohort and class analysis of survey data from 13 countries in 1996-2006 identifies a general declining trend of welfare state support as well as convergence between countries with regard to income redistribution and unemployment support. Furthermore, two liberal welfare states, Great Britain and the USA, show very different temporal dynamics that are explained by their recent social policy histories. Also, there is no evidence that age differences are superseding class differences, putting another nail in the coffin of a generational war vis-à-vis the welfare state.
10. HOW FAMILY POLICIES AFFECT WOMEN’S FORMATION OF DOMESTIC UNIONS – AND WHY IT MATTERS FOR FERTILITY
Andrej Kokkonen (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
Studies on how policies affect fertility tend to focus on how women who live in domestic unions respond to policy incentives. However, in a world in which fertility decisions are interrelated with decisions about whether to form such unions, this study of survey data from 22 European countries demonstrates that family policies, especially dual-earner policies, increase the likelihood of working women living in unions. Because a union is a precondition to having children in most countries, family policies may also increase women’s fertility, an effect so far neglected in the study of policy impact on fertility.
11. EPILOGUE – CONFLICT AND CONVERGENCE: AN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE ON THE POLITICS OF AGING WELFARE STATES
Robert B. Hudson (Boston University, USA)