Palmer, Edward

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Social insurance, Pensions, Welfare economics
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Last updated January 31, 2023
Edward Palmer is a Professor (emeritus) of Social Insurance Economics and Senior Fellow at the Uppsala Center for Labor Studies. He shared professorships first at Gothenburg and then Uppsala University with a position as Head of Research and Evaluation at the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. He was an expert economist in Sweden's pension reform group, has advised in numerous countries, and has published extensively in macro and social insurance economics.

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Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
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    The Market for Retirement Products in Sweden
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-10) Palmer, Edward
    Far-reaching changes in the regulation of financial markets and the organization of public pensions in the 1980s and 1990s transformed the landscape for retirement products in Sweden. First, banking and insurance were extensively deregulated in the 1980s, while the securities markets experienced major expansion. Insurance received a large boost from the authorization of unit-linked products in the early 1990s. Second, the public pension system was reformed. Survivor benefits for widows were eliminated from the public pillar in the late 1980s, leading to a large increase in demand for term life insurance. The old defined benefit public pension system was replaced by a notional or nonfinancial defined contribution (NDC) scheme, while a funded defined contribution (FDC) component was also created in the public pillar. The four occupational pension funds that cover the majority of Swedish workers were also converted into FDC schemes. This paper reviews the implications of these changes for the Swedish annuity market. It discusses the regulation of payout options in Sweden, highlighting the compulsory use of life annuities in the public pillar and the preference for term annuities in the occupational funds. It examines the performance of providers of retirement products, including the PPM, and reviews the increasing focus on risk-based regulation and supervision. The paper also emphasizes Sweden's success in moving in the direction of increased funding and privatization of old age insurance, while maintaining its basic character as a highly developed welfare state.
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    Nonfinancial Defined Contribution Pension Schemes in a Changing Pension World : Volume 1. Progress, Lessons, and Implementation
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2012) Holzmann, Robert ; Palmer, Edward ; Robalino, David
    Pensions and social insurance programs are an integral part of any social protection system. Their dual objectives are to prevent a sharp decline in income and protect against poverty resulting from old age, disability, or death. The critical role of pensions for protection, prevention, and promotion was reiterated and expanded in the new World Bank 2012-2022 social protection strategy. This new strategy reviews the success and challenges of the past decade or more, during which time the World Bank became a main player in the area of pensions. But more importantly, the strategy takes the three key objectives for pensions under the World Bank's conceptual framework coverage, adequacy, and sustainability and asks how these objectives and the inevitable difficult balance between them can best be achieved. The ongoing focus on closing the coverage gap with social pensions and the new outreach to explore the role of matching contributions to address coverage and/or adequacy is part of this strategy. This comprehensive anthology on nonfinancial defined contribution (NDC) pension schemes is part and parcel of the effort to explore and document the working of this new system or reform option and its ability to balance these three key objectives. This innovative, unfunded individual accounts scheme provides a promising option at a time when the world seems locked into a stalemate between piecemeal reform of ailing traditional defined benefit plans or their replacement with prefunded financial account schemes. The current financial crisis, with its focus on sovereign debt, has enhanced the attraction of NDC as a pension scheme that aims for intra and intergenerational fairness, offers a transparent framework to distribute economic and demographic risks, and, if well designed, promises long-term financial stability. Supplemented with a basic minimum pension guarantee, explicit noncontributory rights, and a funded pillar, the NDC approach provides an efficient framework for addressing poverty and risk diversification concerns.
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    Pension Reform : Issues and Prospects for Non-Financial Defined Contribution Schemes
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2006) Holzmann, Robert ; Palmer, Edward
    The previous decade has been one of pension reform throughout the world. In high income countries, the driving force has been the threat that current systems will become unaffordable in coming decades, with demographic developments presenting a major risk. In another setting, countries in the process of transition from a command, to a market economy are confronted with the challenge of introducing a public pension system that will provide social security in old age, but that also supports the fundamentals of a market economy. In the latter sense, it is important to examine carefully the experiences of developed market economies. Even in these countries, the driving force behind reform is demographic change and affordability. In a third setting, middle and lower-middle income countries are faced with the question of what system will best serve the interests of their specific country goals for the future. In all of these settings "NDC"-non-financial defined contribution-pension schemes have been on the agenda in discussions of possible options. Sweden is one of the few countries to have implemented an NDC scheme in the 1990s, when NDC came into its own as a concept, implemented in four European Union (EU) countries (Italy, Latvia, and Poland are the other three). NDC has become a reform option considered by many countries, understandably since most of Europe has a pay-as-you-go tradition, and NDC constitutes a new way to "organize" a mandatory, universal pay-as-you-go pension system. With some experience of NDC schemes implemented, it is felt particularly relevant for Sweden to host a conference devoted to discussing both the conceptual and institutional aspects of NDC. The goal was even more ambitious, however: to contribute to creating a synthesis of current knowledge on this new topic. This book is the realization of that goal. It comprises discussion papers on the status of NDC, its concept and the reform strategies that follow. Papers also discuss the conceptual issues of design and implementation , lessons from countries with NDC contribution schemes, and finalizes on the potential of NDC contribution schemes in other countries' reforms.