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Justifying a financially and socially sustainable pension reform: a comparative study of Finland and France

Increasing longevity and lower birth rates put pressure on the sustainability of pension systems. This compels countries to reform pension schemes. Different countries opt for different types of reforms. This article examines the scope of possibilities for a pension reform in two countries with distinct institutional and ideational setup: Finland and France.

28. august 2023

The authors utilise the framework of different modes of justification presented by Boltanski and Thévenot to reveal the reasoning used in pension reform discussions in both countries. The authors study expert reports to analyse how nationally constructed ideas and local institutions frame and shape the different logics and justifications.

In Finland, the approach to pensions is dominated by industrial and market justifications. The pension system is institutionally separated into two different blocks: one addressing poverty and the other income maintenance. The separation enables the prevalence of these logics and makes it easier to promote reforms that emphasize efficiency and individual responsibility instead of income distribution. The French report is concentrated around civic and domestic dominated justifications by stressing solidarity and the role of pension systems connecting individuals and generations together. Any reform needs to consider these issues.