Is it All About Access? Perceived Access to Occupational Pensions in Germany
31 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2013
Date Written: December 12, 2013
This paper provides an empirical analysis of what determines access to occupational pensions as perceived by workers. We investigate this issue in Germany, where workers have the legal right to an occupational pension since 2001, but many might lack the incentive or the ability to gather and process the relevant information to make use of their right. In particular, if workers rely exclusively on the information available at their firm, employers will continue to regulate access despite workers’ rights. The analysis relies on an innovative linked employer-employee data set for which we combine survey answers from SAVE 2011 to administrative records on workers and firms. Our findings suggest that the current regulation in Germany has not resolved the problem of workers’ ignorance of their access to occupational pensions. Only about half the workers are aware of having access to an occupational pension. We find that there is important heterogeneity in workers’ perceptions, and that this heterogeneity is directly related to worker and firm-side factors as well as outcomes of the employer-employee match. Distorted perceptions have important consequences for workers, policy makers and firms. Workers can only make optimal savings decisions if they are aware of their savings possibilities. Policy makers could help by making information material about occupational pensions mandatory and/or by defining standardised information. A low level of knowledge of employees might also be frustrating for employers, as this would suggest that workers do not appreciate their occupational pension, limiting the power of occupational pension as a Human Resources tool.
Keywords: occupational pension, perceptions, SAVE, linked employer-employee data
JEL Classification: J26, D83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation