Belgium: The Paradox of Persisting Voluntarism in a Corporatist Welfare State

Johan J. De Deken

in The Varieties of Pension Governance

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586028
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725586 | DOI:
Belgium: The Paradox of Persisting Voluntarism in a Corporatist Welfare State

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Belgium's public–private pension mix can be considered a paradox: despite the conservative-corporatist welfare regime and rather limited Bismarckian social insurance for old age, voluntarist occupational pensions remained underdeveloped. Until recent pension reforms, the comparatively low replacement rates of public pensions did not lead to the development of extensive occupational plans, even if several institutional conditions that elsewhere advanced the expansion of supplementary pensions were given. The chapter also reviews the governance of private pensions, discussing how recent attempts to broaden access to occupational pensions have been facilitated and frustrated by the decision to embed those schemes into the neo-corporatist system of collective agreements. Although this allows to extend coverage of private pensions for lower income groups, at the same time it also severely limited the possibility to mobilize funds that are necessary to guarantee adequate income maintenance for the general population.

Keywords: Belgium; Bismarckian social insurance; pension reform; occupational pensions; corporatism; employers; trade unions; pension fund governance

Chapter.  11925 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Economy

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