Social scientists fear pensioner poverty across Europe by 2050 - unless decisions are taken now
A study of pension systems in several European countries by two University of Southampton social scientists has revealed millions of people may face poverty in years to come - unless governments act now.
Dr Paul Bridgen and Dr Traute Meyer, together with a team of researchers from six European countries, have used simulation models to predict how citizens with different occupations and lifestyles could fare on reaching retirement in the middle of this century, under different pension regimes. They drew up 'biographies' of nine types of people to examine the impact of risk factors such as employment patterns, gender and responsibilities such as caring.
'Governments across Europe need to take decisions now about pension systems or millions of elderly people may be living in poverty by 2050,' said Dr Bridgen. 'We are not making specific recommendations because the most appropriate solution will vary across the continent with the different existing pension systems. But political leaders have to start this very important debate now: they need to shift their attention from financial to social sustainability.'
Up until recently, there were major differences between countries such as Germany and Italy with strong state systems that provided generous pension benefits based on income, and nations such as Britain, Switzerland and the Netherlands where the private sector plays a larger role in pensions. However, with the private sector now expanding in most European nations all countries face the risk of greater poverty levels in old age.
Dr Bridgen and Dr Meyer are the editors of Private Pensions versus Social Inclusion? with Professor Barbara Riedmüller of the Freie Universität, Berlin. The book assesses public-private pension systems in six European countries. It is published by Edward Elgar Publishing.
Notes for editors
The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. It is one of the UK's top 10 research universities, offering first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering. The University has around 20,000 students and over 5000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £310 million.
The School of Social Sciences at the University of Southampton hosts world-leading research centres including the Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, Centre for Child Well-Being, Centre for AIDS Research, Centre for Research on Ageing, Mountbatten Centre for International Studies (MCIS), and the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute (S3RI). A wide variety of taught and research courses are offered in applied social sciences (anthropology, criminology and psychological studies), counselling, demography, economics, gerontology, global politics, political science, social policy, social statistics, social work, and sociology. The School has strong links with organisations such as the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) It is also home to the hub of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM).