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Equal pension rights for men and women: A realistic perspective



At least two notions of sexual equality are applicable to EU pension schemes. This article summarizes the pattern of EU pension provision, as it currently exists, highlighting recent and possible future developments and the reasons for these. It then describes and evaluates the two notions of pensions equality. One, the equal treatment approach, is derived from EC equality law; the other, compensatory approach, originates from within EU pension schemes themselves. The equal treatment approach is shown to have serious limitations, not least its restriction to paid workers and its propensity to result in 'levelling-down', However, it has clearly been influential in securing abolition of pension rules discriminating against married women. The compensatory approach is reflected in three types of benefit rules which break the link between pension entitlement and full-time, continuous, higher-paid work shown to be a feature of many EU schemes. The advantage of this approach is its potential for maximizing the welfare of people, especially unpaid women carers, when they reach old age. Building on the strengths of both approaches, a third notion of equality is developed. The prospects for implementing such a notion are discussed in the light of current and possible future trends in EU pension reform

Topics: JF, HM
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