Problem of pensions and their contributions raised by Dr. Zoltan Adam and Prof. Andras Simonovits is, however, an almost worldwide issue, not only constrained in the so-called developing countries where many future pensioners will be either encouraged or even forced to switch from the state-guaranteed or the more traditional and secure, defined benefit (DB) pension schemes, which guaranteed certain, pre-defined pension levels based on income levels, to the mostly private, defined contribution (DC) investment schemes.

However, despite defined contribution levels, the latter ones could not offer any guarantees of the future levels of pension benefit income, only the expectations based on the historical trends and hopes that the trends will remain or improve. On the other hand, the historical trends changed adversely and the so called world-wide saving-glut ever since mid-1990s contributed to a higher demand for bonds and to their interest rates being much lower. As a result, relative prices of those bonds usually bought-into the pension portfolios, are now higher. As a side-effect, the previously defined contributions need to be readjusted, increased so to provide same (expected) level of pension income that investors planned some years ago when they started their pension schemes.

However, one could ask what could be a result when if people did not or some even could not afford to adjust their payments and now need to go to retirement much later (that is, if they have such option) or face unexpectedly low or even insufficient levels of income. It appears as if some however decide that such uncertainty or welfare constraint is not any more worth or possible pursuing or expecting in a long term and embrace life-shortening lifestyle of high indulgences in alcohol and drugs knowing they will not have money for long time. This may be the case even more where many, either lost their homes in the recent, 2007-08 economic and home-loans financial crisis [1], or forgave paying their pension contributions for being able to repay the unexpectedly increased interest rates on their mortgages. How else can one explain a worrying trend of shortening of an average lifespan of, mainly less skilled US white male population in depth analysed jointly by Anne Case and another economics-Nobel laureate, Sir Angus Deaton [2].

Even more worryingly, the modern developed economies appear to follow behaviour not unlike that of the former Yugoslavia, where one of the few main reasons for the failure of its self-management based economic system and its subsequent political collapse, was ever increasing and systemic unemployment. The unemployment there was in great part caused by a systemic lack of incentives for the extensive growth through enlarging production by investment into increased employment. Instead, there was a dominance of the rationale that encouraged various micro-level self-protective policies driven by the self-managing employees who were focusing mainly on facilitating intensive growth by investment into methods for increasing their own productivity rather than opening new working places.

One can ask oneself if it is sufficiently sustainable to follow the trend in the automation technology oriented economies which are predominantly oriented on increase of productivity as means of corporate and of the overall GDP growth (that is, focusing on the GDP per-capita rather than the overall GDP growth) and neglect the extensive growth opportunities. Namely, the heavily indebted, although developed, states are pressured to pursue locally favoured, populist policies of immigration prevention midst the reality of slowing population growth in the developed countries. Instead, they appear to be relying on uncertainty of balancing the lower birth-rate with intensive growth through improved productivity but also, increasing longevity, working lifespan and deferred retirement age [3]. Henceforth, they also increasingly deprive themselves from additional opportunities for extensive growth of their overall GDP that can help them to reduce their overall sovereign debt and, also, provide input for any of the public pension funds for their, currently, increasingly ageing population.

However, as one of the roots of these problems in an increasingly financialised, emerging economy in transition, is breaking of the more traditional social contract for support for the elderly expected to be carried by their younger generation offspring, and where, thus, a saved and invested (contribution defined) pension funds are increasingly used instead. This breakdown has then left many elderly, who financially supported their offspring, rather unprepared for such change. Like the Shakespeare's tragic character, King Lear, many are left deprived of both, sufficient pensions and support from their younger generation offspring, and who are now being turned to saving and investing into own DC pension funds instead.

As noted earlier, the switch from, mainly public-run and more certain, defined benefit (DB) pension schemes, to their replacements, mainly by private investment funds-run, defined contribution (DC) ones, has brought-in uncertainty for the future benefit that is now based on volatile market performance. On the other hand, not everyone is risk-neutral, and, for the majority of the risk-averse, it seems very likely to be the newly-introduced fear of that uncertainty of their future DC-pensions' benefits that would drive many to invest even more to secure their future benefits. The resulting higher demand, in turn, usually has a rather counter-productive effect by inflating the prices of the investment assets, and, thus, requiring even more to be saved and invested. and so, even further accelerating the asset prices and the already mentioned “world-wide saving glut”.

Read also the Part One

[1] US homeless people numbers rise for first time in seven years. (BBC). See also:
[2] e.g. see: Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century or Suicide, age, and wellbeing: an empirical investigation
[3] See e.g. Prettner 2013: Population aging and endogenous economic growth