The chapter discusses three periods of policy change in the field of pension policy. It explains basic parameters of public pension systems and the scope of private provision, comparing contemporary systems with those which existed in the late 1970s. Using a number of indicators, it assess the scale and profile of change in each country. The different reform profiles are identified and their genesis discussed in the context of major legislative changes. It argues that the impact of policy legacies have played a major role in shaping policy profiles. The notion of ‘path dependence’ is a more instructive concept in pension than in unemployment or family policy, rendering radical policy change less likely in Germany than in the UK. However, changes in contextual conditions, not least due to German unification, have contributed to programmatic re-orientations and power relations within major political parties.
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