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Welfare in the European Union: Migrants in Old Age

PFM, Vol. 5 No. 2, (2005)

The first generation of post-World War Two (WWII) migrants to Western Europe
have joined the ranks of the European elderly. Typically, they have accumulated
limited assets because of lower paid employment and earned limited rights within
public pension schemes that in most European countries relate pensions to years of
residence or contribution. In some respect they share the problems of those of the
European-born population, mainly women, who started work late, have interrupted
work histories, or have low life-time earnings. This paper argues that changing the
rules for those sections of the European Union (EU) population who are reliant on
public pensions will help to reduce the risk of poverty in old age among some of the
most underprivileged sections of the EU elderly population. Among these policies are:
delinking length of residency from pension rights or giving credit for the years that a
person lived outside the country, financial support to those who are short of
contribution years, allowing people to take their pension abroad without a penalty,
and improving the rights and entitlement of the surviving spouse (usually women).

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