Research and Program Descriptions About Sweden
Analysts have long considered caregiver credits, or pension credits, provided to individuals for time spent out of the workforce caring for dependent children and sick or elderly relatives, as a way to improve the adequacy of retirement benefits for women in the United States. This article examines the experiences of France, Germany, and Sweden with caregiver credits, focusing particularly on the design, administration, and cost of these programs.
To date, more than 30 countries have established some form of individual accounts in their retirement systems. This article identifies those countries, categorizes how the individual accounts fit into their retirement income systems, and identifies some basic characteristics of the accounts. Because this analysis of individual accounts is intended to inform the current United States debate involving Social Security, the discussion is limited to countries in which such accounts are part or all of a mandatory retirement income program.
Sweden's new multipillar pension system includes a system of mandatory fully funded individual accounts. The Swedish system offers contributors more than 600 fund options from a variety of private-sector fund managers. However, in the most recent rounds of fund choice, more than 90 percent of new labor market entrants have not made an active choice of funds and thus have ended up in a government-sponsored default fund.
The Swedish system offers a number of lessons about implementing a mandatory individual account tier. Centralized administration keeps administrative costs down but requires considerable lead time. A very large number of fund options are likely to be offered unless strong entry barriers are in place. Engaging new labor market entrants in fund choice is likely to be difficult. A significant percentage of those making an active fund choice may choose funds that are very specialized and risky. Finally, special care must be devoted to designing a default fund and continual consumer communication.
Improving Return-to-Work Strategies in the United States Disability Programs, with Analysis of Program Practices in Germany and Sweden
This article examines suggestions by the General Accounting Office (GAO) to improve the rate of rehabilitation of workers on the disability rolls. It examines GAO's suggestions within the context of research by experts on return-to-work practices in Germany, Sweden, and the United States. It also discusses lessons learned from the European experiences and current and past return-to-work initiatives used in the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs.
Poverty Among Single Elderly Women Under Different Systems of Old-Age Security: A Comparative Review
This study takes stock of available comparative research on the economic status of elderly single women in six industrialized countries: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. A systematic comparison of income has become easier due to such standardized data bases as the Luxembourg Income Study.
But an explanation for different poverty rates among older women who are on their own requires a further, differentiated assessment of the countries' retirement benefit structures. This article attempts such a review. It makes use of a variety of single-country sources and takes into account the institutional heterogeneity of old-age security systems. The study concludes with a view of the effectiveness of different old-age security systems in preventing poverty among older single women.
In the United States, low-income families who have a child or children with a disability may be eligible for cash benefits payable under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. In the last few years, the number of these children on the SSI rolls has increased dramatically due, in large part, to new standards developed in response to a 1990 Supreme Court decision and the subsequent retroactive activity as a result of that decision. The rise in the number of child beneficiaries has led to increased concerns as to whether cash benefits are the best way to help these children and their families deal with the additional needs and expenses caused by disabilities. This article begins with a summary of recent American developments regarding the childhood disability issue as background to an exploration of comparative practices.
In light of the current interest in the United States concerning children with disabilities, it seems timely to explore the approaches used by other countries' social insurance programs. This study details the practices and provisions of 14 European countries and 4 other developed countries (Australia, Israel, Japan, and New Zealand). In addition to examining the variables involved in making cash benefits available and awarding them to families on behalf of disabled children, the article also provides information of in-kind benefits to which such families would be entitled and gives some insight as to the philosophy and policy goals of selected foreign programs.