Pensions: Overview of the Issues

Posted: 29 Feb 2008


Many countries face increasing fiscal problems financing pensions in the face of population aging. There is controversy about the underlying economic theory, about the extent of the problem, and about the best mix of policies to protect old-age security. This paper establishes the areas of debate; gives thumbnail descriptions of pension arrangements in different countries; discusses the main analytical and empirical issues relevant to thinking about pension design; and assesses a range of policy directions. The main conclusions are that what matters most is effective government and economic growth; that the debate between pay-as-you-go and funding is secondary; that good pension schemes can take many forms; and that there is a problem in financing pensions, but not a crisis.

Suggested Citation

Barr, Nicholas, Pensions: Overview of the Issues. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 1-14, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Nicholas Barr (Contact Author)

London School of Economics ( email )

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