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Institutional Approach to Gender Bias in Old Age Security Systems: Comparative Analysis of Swedish and Polish Pension Reforms

Slawomir Czech and Anna Zachorowska-Mazurkiewicz

Journal of Economic Issues, 2020, vol. 54, issue 3, 755-771

Abstract: According to the functionalist approach, institutions exist for a reason. They appear spontaneously or are carefully designed in order to address particular problems. The very same institution may bring various effects in different social settings or when nested within distinct institutional structures. Similarly, historical paths of development may influence institutions in such a way that even though they address similar problems, their content is not alike which ultimately produces divergent results. Thus the question appears, to what extent a particular institution is an outcome of rational design, and/or an outcome of sociocultural heritage conflicting with it. Our intention is to illustrate the above concerns with a case study, which compares two efforts to reform an institutional structure resulting in diverse outcomes. In the article we address the issue of women and men within pension systems. We argue that these systems are institutional structures, which creation was influenced by both sociocultural heritage and rational design aimed at achieving specific results. This is especially apparent when focusing on gender related issues and the struggle to overcome differences between women and men with regard to old age income. We observe that these efforts are sometimes contraposed by sociocultural factors which downplay economic rationality.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/00213624.2020.1787050

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