Population Aging and Retirement Policy: An International Perspective
Robert L. Clark
All developed countries have experienced significant aging of their populations since 1950. The primary determinants of the increase in the proportion of national populations in the older ages is the result of declines in fertility rates and reductions in mortality rates at older ages.
Population aging has important implications for the cost of social security systems. The role of social security programs and their costs are also influenced by the existence of employer pension plans and national retirement policies. Government tax policy affecting individual savings also affects the reliance on and need for social security retirement benefits. This paper begins with a review of past population aging in several developed countries and considers projections of the pattern of continued aging through the first quarter of the twenty-first century.
The direct discussion of population trends and retirement programs is restricted to six countries. Countries included in the analysis are Japan, the United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. These countries are of interest in their own right as specific examples of the development of national retirement programs in the context of population aging. In addition, they provide clear examples of population trends and development of retirement programs that have occurred in the other developed countries. The German example is based on pre- unification population projections for West Germany and the West Geffnan social security and pension systems.
The review of social security systems concentrates on worker retirement benefits and does not attempt to examine disability insurance, unemployment programs, or medical insurance. While these programs, especially medical insurance, are also affected by the changing age structure of the population, pace constraints of this paper do not permit an assessment of all aspects of