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Privatisation and Pensions: Some Pitfalls for Women?

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This article pursues two themes. The first describes EU pension provision and how this has changed since the early 1980s. The arguments and proposals for further reform by influential organisations such as the World Bank are then examined. In the light of this analysis, the paper argues that while EU pension reform to date has been concerned primarily with adjusting detailed rules, some proposals presently being canvassed point to more radical reform amounting to ‘privatisation’. Privatisation is here taken to mean the end of state and employer financing of pension provision for individuals and the substitution of national and company schemes by individual pension and personal savings plans. The second theme of the article is an evaluation of the extent to which existing and possible future pension provision in the EU facilitates or hinders access by people (predominantly women) who are outside the labour market, who are engaged in certain forms of paid work and who are engaged in unpaid caring work. The paper reveals that while access to existing pension schemes is restricted in respect of the first two groups of people, compensatory rules serve to ensure the continued access of those engaged in unpaid caring work. Bringing together the two themes of women’s access and pension reform, the paper concludes by arguing that women carers would be disadvantaged were privatisation of pensions in the EU to go ahead.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Warwick

Publication date: March 1, 1997

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