Savings: The Policy Debate in Europe
Content Three issues dominate the public policy debate over savings in Continental Europe. First, can private savings substitute for public pensions in the provision of retirement income, given that the current generosity of pay-as-you-go financed pensions is hardly sustainable in the light of population ageing? And if so, which policy steps have to be taken to alleviate this transition? Second, does the evolution of a “new financial landscape” in Europe necessitate policy response in terms of taxation and regulation, specifically considering the increase in pension funds? And third, closely related to the other two issues, is there too much or too little saving in an ageing Europe? Will pension reform and the new financial landscape increase or decrease overall saving? Do we need to subsidise saving more or less than we currently do? The paper reviews economic theory and empirical evidence on these intertwined issues. Most importantly, it identifies many gaps in our theoretical and empirical knowledge that caution us against overly strong policy recommendations.