A key figure which can be applied to measuring inter-generational imbalances involved in existing public pension schemes is given by the implicit tax that is levied on each generation's life-time income through participation in these systems. The implicit tax arises from the fact that, quite generally, pension benefits received fall short of actuarial returns to contributions (i.e., explicit social security taxes) paid while actively working. If, in spite of large-scale demographic ageing, public pension schemes are continued to be run based on current rules, implicit tax rates will sharply increase for generations who are currently young when compared to those who are already approaching retirement. In the paper, this will be illustrated for the cases of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, the UK, and the US. The results are based on simulations covering representative individuals in all age cohorts born from 1940 to 2000. At the same time, there are striking differences across countries regarding both the level of implicit taxes and their time paths over successive age cohorts, which can be attributed to different ageing processes as well as to different institutional features of national pension systems. In addition, we are studying the impact of pension reforms that were recently enacted or are currently under way, thus demonstrating how effective the measures taken are in terms of smoothing the inter-generational profile of implicit tax rates.
demographic ageing public pensions pension reform inter-generational redistribution international comparisons