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How partisan politics influence government policies in response to ageing populations

Kohei Suzuki is Assistant Professor at Institute of Public Administration. This study carries several important implications for understanding the policy impacts of a graying population and for studies of the welfare state, in general.

Yesola Kweon, Kohei Suzuki
10 January 2022
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Since old-age programmes mitigate life-course risks that are relevant to individuals across socio-economic groups in ageing societies, all parties have a political incentive to support these initiatives. Nevertheless, pre-existing partisan commitments bind the policy instruments that parties use. Cabinet-level analyses of OECD economies demonstrate that left incumbency relies more on public expenditure than right-wing governments. What is more important is that, in the context of large elderly populations, pension coverage is greater under right-leaning governments, while pension replacement rates are higher in left-leaning governments. This shows that party behaviour related to life course-related policies cannot be explained by the conventional pro-expansion versus the pro-retrenchment partisan politics. Rather, a focus on partisan variation in the use of policy instruments is required.

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