512.2 Transnational actors and pension policy: The cases of Argentina and Greece

Friday, August 3, 2012: 11:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Marina ANGELAKI , Sociology, Panteion University , Athens, Greece
Leandro CARRERA , London School of Economics, United Kingdom
Pension reform has been high in the agenda of countries around the world as a result of demographic ageing and its subsequent impact on the financial sustainability of pension systems and public finances. Consequently, reforms have been undertaken by countries in different regions over the last twenty years. At the same time, there is evidence that pension policy is increasingly becoming a multi-level process involving the interaction of domestic and transnational actors such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and the European Union (EU). Against this background, the present paper seeks to analyze the influence of transnational actors and their interaction with domestic ones in the pension reform processes of two countries from different regions: Argentina and Greece. In both cases, international financial institutions (primarily the WB and the IMF) have played an influential role. Both Argentina and Greece adopted significant reforms, the former in the early 1990s and the latter in 2010, justified by the need to curb public deficits following (in both cases) an economic crisis and a long tradition of mismanaged and very generous pay-as-you-go public pension systems. Our analysis shows that the variation in the outcome of the reforms undertaken in the two countries is the result not only of the different interaction of transnational and domestic actors and the ability of the latter to block reforms, but also of the ideational change concerning pension policy which is evidenced in the two reform episodes. Thus, while in the 1990s the WB and the IMF favored pension privatization; more recently they seem to focus on ensuring the long-term sustainability of public pension systems through a range of measures aimed at reducing the impact of such systems on public finances.