Distributive Effects of Israel's Pension System

19/10/2009 |  Brender Adi
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Welfare Policy and Labor Market
This paper examines several aspects of Israel's restructured retirement benefits system, focusing on distributive effects. We characterize 10 stylized representative prototypes of Israeli households, reflecting common demographic, wage and employment profiles. These prototypes are used to examine the joint effects of tax benefits for pensions and the public Old Age Allowances program's contributions and disbursements on the lifetime income distribution, net replacement rates at retirement and lifetime consumption smoothing. We find that the system is neutral in terms of its effect on lifetime income distribution, except for the top income decile which gains somewhat less than the others. We also find that pension savings result in a net loss for many low-income households, unsmooth their consumption and lead to "too high" post-retirement net replacement rates. Furthermore, evidence from a unique dataset point to rational and active behavior of most households with respect to these incentives. These findings suggest that the parameters of the retirement-age benefits system should be adjusted following the introduction of mandatory pensions.
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