Germany: Departing from Bismarckian Public Pensions

Bernhard Ebbinghaus, Mareike Gronwald and Tobias Wiß

in The Varieties of Pension Governance

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586028
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725586 | DOI:
Germany: Departing from Bismarckian Public Pensions

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The chapter first reviews the emergence and change of the public–private pension mix in Germany, emphasizing the path-dependent but recent path-departing developments from the Bismarckian social insurance tradition. The politically contentious pension reforms of the 1990s and subsequent reforms in the 2000s followed a strategy of institutional layering by introducing a voluntary personal (‘Riester’) pension, while fostering coexisting occupational pensions. At the same time, the reforms of public pensions made voluntary private pensions necessary for status maintenance in old age. The second part analyses the structure and governance of occupational and personal pensions in Germany, highlighting the new instruments for the design of occupational pensions such as collective agreements and collective pension institutions self-administered by employers and trade unions. The chapter concludes with an outlook on the future, discussing potential scenarios for institutional change and its consequences for old age income in Germany.

Keywords: Germany; Bismarckian social insurance; pension reform; occupational pensions; voluntary personal pensions; employers; trade unions; pension fund governance

Chapter.  12186 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Economy

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