Financialisation meets collectivisation: occupational pensions in Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden

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Series Details Volume 26, Number 4, Pages 617-636
Publication Date April 2019
ISSN 1466-4429 (online)
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This paper analyses three cases where unions and employers have embraced financialisation in occupational pension provision. The widespread use of funded occupational pensions in Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden is rooted in social partner agreement that collectively organised, capital funded pensions can be harnessed to generate secure income. External funding (legal separation of pension reserves from the employer) and administration were key elements in strategies to provide secure occupational pensions.

The introduction of funded occupational pensions took place in the context of meagre and/or incomplete statutory provision and before the expansion of generous basic pension coverage starting in the 1930s. This sequencing had a ‘crowding in’ effect, because well-paid workers sought collective solutions to their pension gap. Over time, these arrangements came to encompass nearly the entire labour market. Unions and employers have developed distinctive strategies for limiting investment risks, limiting the involvement of private financial actors, and ensuring that the interests of plan participants and investment managers are aligned.

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This article is part of a Special Issue of this Journal on 'The political economy of pension financialisation: public policy responses to the crisis'.

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