The Regulatory Welfare State in Pension Markets: Mitigating High Charges for Low Income Savers in the United Kingdom and Israel
Journal of Social Policy, Forthcoming
31 Pages Posted: 13 May 2016 Last revised: 13 Jul 2016
Date Written: May 13, 2016
How does the rising ‘regulatory welfare state’ address social policy concerns in pension markets? This study examines this question by comparing the regulatory responses to high charges paid by low-income workers in pension markets in the UK and Israel. In the UK, with the recognition that the market would not cater to low income workers, the regulatory response was the creation of a publicly operated low-cost pension fund (NEST), a ‘public option’ within the market. This allowed low income workers access to a low level of charges, previously reserved for high income and organized workers. In Israel, regulation sought to empower consumers, whilst providing minimal social protection by capping pension charges at a relatively high level, thereby leaving most of the responsibility for reducing the charges with the individual saver. By comparing these two cases, the article develops an analytical framework for the study of the regulatory welfare state, making two contributions. First, it highlights different types of regulatory citizenship: minimal regulatory social protection as opposed to a more egalitarian approach. Second, it identifies an overlooked regulatory welfare state strategy: creating ‘public option’ arrangements, whereby a state-run (but not funded) service operates within the market.
Keywords: Regulatory state, Welfare State, Privatisation, Pensions, NEST
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