Research Seminar

Mike Otsuka: How to guard against the risk of living too long: the case for collective pensions

Date: 13 April
Time: 10:00–12:00

Mike (Michael) Otsuka, Professor of Philosophy at London School of Economics

In this paper, I defend the realization here and now of a type of occupational pension that is collective rather than individualistic in nature, as it involves the pooling, both pre- and post-retirement, of the individual defined contribution (IDC) pension pots that characterize retirement plans in the US and the UK. This type of pension, known as 'collective defined contribution' (CDC), is based on a simple idea: namely, that it is possible to limit the employer's liability to nothing more than a set contribution (a 'defined contribution') while retaining many of the benefits of the collectivization (pooling) of risks of a traditional defined benefit (DB) pension, which are absent in an IDC. CDC can be defended against a freedom-based objection from the right via an appeal to the following Hobbesian voluntarist justification: CDC constitutes a 'Leviathan of Leviathans' into which it is rational for workers to choose to associate in order to tame longevity and investment risks. CDC pensions that arise from and mirror existing income inequalities can also be defended against an egalitarian objection from the left, by demonstration that they can be grounded in Rawlsian principles of reciprocity and property-owning democracy

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