The Political Economy of Pensions
Power, Politics and Social Change in Canada, Britain and the U.S.

Deaton, Richard Lee
Publisher:  University of British Columbia Press, Canada
Year Published:  1989  
Pages:  500pp   Price:  $55.00   ISBN:  0-7748-0318-5
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX4270

Abstract:  In 2011 the "Baby Boom" generation will begin to retire. That leaves a little over 20 years for fixing pension systems, systems which according to Richard Lee Deaton are inadequate and heading towards a crisis.
Consider the implications of these simple statistics: by 2011, the median age of the Canadian population will have risen from 30 to 42, and the percentage of retired people in the population will have nearly doubled; currently, per capita public expenditure for an elderly dependent is 2.5 to 3 times greater than for a young dependent. The chilling reality underlying these statistics is that pension reform in advanced capitalist countries has failed.
The objective of the study is, in Deaton's own words,"to contribute a critical analysis of pensions policy using the approach of Marxist political economy. The method adopted here is to identify and explore the linkages and interaction between those socio-economic structures and forces which will affect the development of social policy towards aging and pensions over the next thirty to fifty years in the advanced capitalist countries of Canada, Britain and the United States."
The book examines the problems associated with the impoverishment of the elderly, the limitations of employer-based pension plans, and the under-development of state pension systems. Deaton links these problems to the structure of private pension fund power, pointing out that nearly 45% of all pension fund assets are controlled by three conglomerates: CP, Edper, and Power Corporation.
Deaton predicts that public policy towards aging and pensions identifies personal concerns and issues which will act as catalysts in terms of power, politics, and social change in the near future. Pension reform is ultimately a fight with the private sector, he maintains. The real issue is who is to control this vast pool of pension capital.

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