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Working Papers on the Reconciliation of Work and Welfare in Europe

REC-WP 01 / 11

Flexible working lives and pension coverage in Europe with a focus on women: Lessons to be learned by Germany?

Janine Leschke

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In particular due to increasing female employment over the last decades employment has become more flexible in regard to the contract form and we observe more discontinuous employment careers. This paper discusses in how far retirement pension systems in Europe are suited to cover the specific risks of flexible workers. Recent reforms to these systems (e.g. the strengthening of private elements) and their outcomes on flexible workers are also scrutinised. Section 1 discusses the increasing flexibility of working lives, focussing on breaks in paid employment caused by the incompatible demands of family and working life and on atypical forms of employment, in particular part-time and fixed-term employment. Section 2 discusses the problems encountered by persons with flexible labour market histories with regard to retirement pensions, and points to good practices from several European countries. Section 3 analyses retirement pension in Germany in detail based on the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) data which contains life course information. It looks at differences in pension coverage taking account of the full-time and part-time employment history of individuals. It puts specific emphasis on the private ‘Riester pension’ plan which contains incentives for participation of specific labour market groups usually disadvantaged in third pillar private pension schemes.


Pensions, non-standard employment, welfare state, life course perspective, micro-data analysis