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Public pension privatization: Neo-classical economics, decision risks and welfare ideology

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Although neo-classical economics has undoubtedly driven the global pension privatization reform agenda, it does not provide an adequate framework for the reform of retirement income protection. Indeed, it poses salient decision risks for policy-makers because of its naturalist epistemology and agency ontology, which deny both the value of hermeneutic knowledge and the existence of structural imperatives. When confronted with the challenge of income maintenance for those in retirement, policy-makers must necessarily tackle strategically important, values-laden questions. This requires them to engage in policy discourses that are informed by competing welfare ideologies. Reflecting these discourses, national governments have adopted three reform approaches to public pension privatization. All are consistent with values of community solidarity, social cohesion and citizenship rights, which are seen by national governments to be preferable to the values that underpin neo-classical economic analysis, namely, individual responsibility, freedom of choice and contractual rights.
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Keywords: Economics; Pensions; Privatization; Public Finance; Welfare

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 23 April 2003

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