Theme: Pension challenges and opportunities

26 June 2020

The International Pension Research Association (IPRA) conference, hosted by IPRA in collaboration with the OECD and the International Organisation of Pension Supervisors (IOPS), was held online on 26 June 2020. 

This is an invitation-only event. If you have any enquiries, please contact us.

IPRA is a new international organisation established with the aim of improving the quality and impact of research on pensions and related ageing issues to optimise social and economic outcomes for an ageing world. Its inaugural executive committee comprises representatives of the four founding organisations ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR, Australia), the Pension Research Council at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (USA), Netspar at Tilburg University (The Netherlands), and the OECD.

The theme for 2020 was ‘Pension Challenges and Opportunities’.

Speakers included:

  • Tom Baker, University of Pennsylvania
  • Marie Brière, Amundi, PSL Paris-Dauphine University
  • Rebecca Henderson, Harvard Business School
  • Marike Knoef, Leiden University, Netspar
  • Brigitte Madrian, BYU Marriott School of Business, Brigham Young University
  • Raimond Maurer, Goethe University
  • Olivia S. Mitchell, Pension Research Council, Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, CEPAR
  • Cosmin Munteanu, University of Toronto Mississauga
  • Javier Olivera, Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research


Time zone: Central European Summer Time (CEST)

View or download the presentation files by clicking on the presentation titles below.

13:00 - 13:10 (CEST)


Hazel Bateman, President, International Pension Research Association (CEPAR, UNSW Sydney)

Pablo Antolin, OECD

13:10 – 14:20


Chair: Olivia S. Mitchell (Pension Research Council, Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, CEPAR)


Personal Values, Responsible Investing and Stock Allocation

Marie Brière (Amundi, PSL Paris-Dauphine University)

Abstract: We analyze the portfolio choices of approximately 965,500 active participants in employee saving plans in France. Looking at the cross-section of equity exposure, we find that the inclusion of responsible equity options in the menu of available funds is associated with a 2.2% higher equity allocation by plan participants. Difference-in-differences analyses confirm that the introduction of a responsible equity option to a saving plan is followed by an increase of 6.8% in participants' appetite for stocks, contrary to what happens with conventional equity funds. Additional analyses along the geographical variation in political preferences indicate that the observed effect is driven by social and cultural factors.


Regulatory Challenges for Pan European Pensions

Raimond Maurer (Goethe University)

Abstract: Numerous countries have adopted tax-qualified defined contribution retirement accounts as a means to fill the gap between retiree income needs and benefits payable under national social security systems. Many policymakers seek mechanisms to protect savers against retirement account volatility. For instance, the European Parliament recently adopted a Pan-European Personal Pension Product (PEPP), a standardized tax-qualified funded defined contribution plan offered by financial institutions. During the worker’s accumulation phase, the provider must offer a default option (called the Basic PEPP) which governs the plan’s investment strategy if the saver does not provide instructions on how to invest the funds. This default option requires capital protection either in form of a money-back guarantee by the provider, or some other risk mitigation technique that will ensure that the PEPP saver can recoup the funds contributed by the end of the accumulation phase. This paper explores the consequences for savers’ wellbeing of implementing money-back guarantees versus other risk mitigation techniques, using a life cycle consumption and portfolio choice model where investors have access to stocks, bonds, and tax-qualified retirement accounts.


Should a Pension Fund Try to Change the World? Inside the GPIF

Rebecca Henderson (Harvard Business School)

Abstract: In 2015 Hiro Mizuno, the CIO of the Japanese Government Pension Fund (the GPIF), the world’s largest pension fund with ~$1.6 trillion under management, announced that going forward the GPIF would expect all its asset managers to “engage” with the firms in their portfolio around so called “ESG” (Environmental, Social and Governance) issues. Mizuno had become convinced that because the GPIF was a “universal investor” – an investor so large that it is effectively forced to hold the entire market -- his fiduciary duty required him to tackle problems like climate change and social inclusion. This talk will explore the case for and against this idea, and the implications it has had for both asset ownership and asset management across the world.



14:20 -14:35


14:35 – 15:45


Chair: Dariusz Stanko (IOPS Secretariat, OECD)


Regulation Challenges for Robo Advice

Tom Baker (University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract: Automated financial product advisors—“robo advisors”—are emerging across the financial services industry, helping consumers choose investments, banking products, and insurance policies. Robo advisors have the potential to lower the cost and increase the quality and transparency of financial advice for consumers. But they also pose significant new challenges for regulators who are accustomed to assessing human intermediaries. A well-designed robo advisor will be honest and competent, and it will recommend only suitable products. Because humans design and implement robo advisors, however, honesty, competence, and suitability cannot simply be assumed. Moreover, robo advisors pose new scale risks that are different in kind from the risks involved in assessing the conduct of thousands of individual actors. This presentation will identify the core components of robo advisors, key questions that regulators need to be able to answer about them, and the capacities that regulators need to develop in order to answer those questions.


Raising Pension Awareness through Social Media

Marike Knoef (Leiden University, Netspar)

Abstract: Pension reforms are high on the policy agenda of many countries and need to be communicated to citizens. Citizens become increasingly more responsible for their own pension. A vast amount of recent literature, however, has shown that most citizens are ill-informed about pensions and lack the basic knowledge to make well-informed financial decisions. Can new communication channels help to engage citizens with pensions? In this presentation we compare the effectiveness of letters and Facebook. An informative letter with fear appeal is effective in raising the knowledge of the pension system, even 6 weeks after receiving the letter. However, a Facebook ad is much more cost effective.


Designing for Older Adults: Overcoming Barriers to a Supportive, Safe and Healthy Retirement

Cosmin Munteanu (University of Toronto Mississauga)



15:45 – 16:00


16:00 – 17:10


Chair: Monika Bütler (University of St. Gallen, Netspar)


How Persistent Low Expected Returns Alter Optimal Life Cycle Saving, Investment, and Retirement Behavior

Olivia S. Mitchell (Pension Research Council, Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, CEPAR)

Abstract: We explore how an environment of persistent low returns influences saving, investing, and retirement behaviors, compared to past “normal” financial conditions. Our calibrated lifecycle dynamic model with realistic tax, minimum distribution, and Social Security benefit rules produces results that agree with observed saving, work, and claiming age behavior of U.S. households. In particular, our model generates a large peak at the earliest claiming age at 62, as in the data. Also in line with the evidence, our baseline results show a smaller second peak at the (system-defined) Full Retirement Age of 66. In the context of a zero return environment, we show that workers will optimally devote more of their savings to non-retirement accounts and less to 401(k) accounts, since the relative appeal of investing in taxable versus tax-qualified retirement accounts is higher in a low return setting. Finally, we show that people claim Social Security benefits later in a low interest rate environment.


The Distribution of Pension Wealth in Europe

Javier Olivera (Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research)

Abstract: This study estimates pension wealth inequality among elderly households for 26 EU countries by exploiting cross-sections of the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey (EU-SILC). To assess the role of life expectancy inequalities on pension wealth, this study estimates life tables per educational level with auxiliary data in order to capture socio-economic status (SES). This procedure also distinguishes mortality estimates by sex, birth cohort, and year. The results indicate that differential mortality due to SES increases pension wealth inequality. In most of the countries, this effect has decreased between 2006 and 2014, which means that SES inequalities in mortality are less important in explaining today’s pension wealth inequality. Gini re-centered influence function (RIF) regressions confirm the diminishing influence of tertiary education on pension wealth inequality.


The Effect of Automatic Enrolment on Debt

Brigitte Madrian (BYU Marriott School of Business, Brigham Young University)

Abstract: Does automatic enrollment into a retirement plan increase borrowing outside the plan? We study a natural experiment created when the U.S. Army began automatically enrolling newly hired civilian employees into the Thrift Savings Plan. Four years after hire, automatic enrollment causes no significant change in credit scores (point estimate 0.001 standard deviations) or debt balances excluding auto loans and first mortgages (point estimate -0.6% of annual salary). We also find no significant increase in auto loan and first mortgage balances in our main regression specification, although the estimated increases in these categories are economically and statistically significant in alternative specifications.





Hazel Bateman, President, International Pension Research Association (CEPAR, UNSW Sydney)

Speaker bios

Marie Brière, PhD, is Head of the Investor Research Center at Amundi, an affiliate professor at Paris Dauphine University and an associate researcher with the Centre Emile Bernheim, Solvay Business School, Université Libre de Bruxelles. Marie started her working career as a quantitative researcher at the proprietary trading desk at BNP Paribas. She joined Credit Lyonnais Asset Management in 2002 as a fixed income strategist, then Head of Fixed Income, Forex and Volatility Strategy at Credit Agricole Asset Management. Since 2011, she leads and conducts research on long term asset allocation and risk management, with the goal to advise strategic decisions of institutional investors (Sovereign Wealth Funds, Pension Funds, Central Banks etc.). As an affiliate professor, she teaches portfolio management and quantitative investment at Paris Dauphine University. She is the author of a book on anomalies in the formation of interest rates, and a number of her scientific articles have been published in academic journals, including Journal of Banking and Finance, Journal of International Money and Finance, Journal of Portfolio Management, Financial Analyst Journal. She received the Markowitz award for her article with Zvi Bodie on “"Sovereign Wealth and Risk Management: A Framework for Optimal Asset Allocation of Sovereign Wealth", published in the Journal of Investment Management. She holds a PhD in economics from the University Paris X and graduated from ENSAE.


Raimond Maurer is a Professor of Investment, Portfolio Management and Pension Finance at Goethe University Frankfurt. He joined Goethe’s faculty of economics and business in 2000 and served as Chairman of the Dissertation Committee (2002-2009), Vice Dean (2011-2015), Dean (since 2015), and member of the Senate (since 2011). From Mannheim University he received his master, dissertation, as well as habilitation in business administration and from the State University of Finance and Economics of St. Petersburg he holds the degree doctor honoris causa. He is a SAFE Research Associate, Advisory board member for the Pension Research Council at the Wharton School and editor of Journal of Pension Economics and Finance. Dr. Maurer has several experiences in policy consulting (e.g. for Worldbank, ECB, OECD) and holds various professional positions, such as for Union Real Estate Investment (member of the supervisory board), Society of Actuaries (academic chairman AFIR/ERMR group), and Association of Certified International Investment Analysts (academic director of CIIA program). His main research interests focus on asset management of institutional investors, life cycle consumption/portfolio choice, and pension finance. Dr. Maurer has published in various international journals and is regularly interview by national and international media (such as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, ZEIT, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times).

Selected publications:

  • Functional Ross recovery: Theoretical results and empirical tests (Dillschneider/Maurer). Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control 108, 2019, 103750.
  • Will they take the money and work? An empirical analysis of people's willingness to delay claiming social security benefits for a lump sum. (Maurer/Mitchell/Rogalla/Schimetschek), Journal of Risk and Insurance 85, 2018, 877-909.
  • Time is money: Life cycle rational inertia and delegation of investment management. (Kim/Maurer/Mitchell), Journal of Financial Economics 121, 2016, 427-447.
  • How family status and social security claiming options shape optimal life cycle portfolios. (Hubener/Maurer/Mitchell). Review of Financial Studies 29, 2016, 937-978.
  • Optimal portfolio choice with annuities and life insurance for retired couples. (Hubener/Maurer/Rogalla). Review of Finance 18, 2014, 147-188.


Rebecca Henderson, John and Natty McArthur Professor, is one of 25 University Professors at Harvard University, a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a fellow of both the British Academy and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is an expert on innovation and organizational change, and her research explores the degree to which the private sector can play a major role in building a more sustainable economy, focusing particularly on the relationships between organizational purpose and innovation and productivity. Her publications include the books Leading Sustainable Change and Accelerating Energy Innovation: Lessons from multiple sectors and her book Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire will be published in April 2020. Rebecca sits on the boards of Amgen and of Idexx Laboratories. In 2019 she was named one of three “Outstanding Directors of the Year” by the Financial Times.


Tom Baker is the William Maul Measey Professor at Penn Law School, with a secondary appointment in the Wharton School’s Health Care Management and Business Economics and Public Policy Departments. He has conducted wide-ranging research on many topics related to insurance. He has two recent publications about robo advice, co-authored with Benedict Dellaert: Regulating Robo Advice Across the Financial Services Industry, Iowa L. Rev. 103:713-750 (2018) and Behavioral Economics, Decumulation, and the Regulatory Strategy for Robo Advice, in The Disruptive Impact of FinTech on Retirement Systems, Olivia S. Mitchell, ed. (2019). He is also a co-founder of Picwell, a health data analytics company that provides advanced consumer decision support tools (robo advisors) to exchanges, insurers, and employers. His B.A. and J.D. are from Harvard University.


Marike Knoef is professor of Empirical Micro-economics at Leiden University and board member of the Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement (Netspar). In 2018 she was nominated for the Huibregtsen Prize, because of a scientifically innovative research project. Marike works together with different disciplines and is successful in bridging the gap between research and practice. Her research interests include retirement savings adequacy and the communication of pensions.


Cosmin Munteanu is an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology at University of Toronto Mississauga, and Co-Director of the Technologies for Ageing Gracefully lab at University of Toronto. His area of expertise is at the intersection of Human-Computer Interaction, Automatic Speech Recognition, Natural User Interfaces, Mobile Computing, Ethics, and Assistive Technologies. He has extensively studied the human factors of using imperfect speech recognition systems, and has designed and evaluated systems that improve humans' access to and interaction with information-rich media and technologies through natural language. Cosmin's multidisciplinary interests include speech and natural language interaction for mobile devices, mixed reality systems, learning technologies for marginalized users, usable privacy and cyber-safety, assistive technologies for older adults, and ethics in human-computer interaction research.


Olivia S. Mitchell is the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Professor, as well as Professor of Insurance/Risk Management and Business Economics/Policy; Director of the Pension Research Council; and Director of the Boettner Center on Pensions and Retirement Research; all at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania which she joined in 1993. Concurrently Dr Mitchell serves as a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research; Associate Director, Financial Literacy Center; and Independent Director on the Wells Fargo Fund Boards. Previously she served as a Commissioner on the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security; and on the Advisory Committee for the Central Provident Fund of Singapore. Dr Mitchell received the MA and PhD degrees in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the BA in Economics from Harvard University.


Javier Olivera is a researcher at the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) and professor of economics at Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (PUCP). He holds a PhD in economics from KU Leuven. Previous to his academic career, he has been a policy-maker for the government of Peru in the areas of pensions and social security, and has been involved in advisory work for pension and social protection reform in Latin America. He was a member of the committee to reform the Peruvian pension system in 2011-2012. He has taught as an invited professor at KU Leuven, UC Louvain, University College Dublin and PUCP. His research interests include public economics, socio-economic inequality, intergenerational transfers, pensions, old age and economic demography. He has published several academic articles in journals such as Science, Journal of Social Policy, Journal of International Money & Finance, Journal of the Economics of Ageing and Journal of Development Studies; and in collective volumes such as the “Handbook of Income Distribution”, and “National Wealth: What is missing, why it matters”.

Brigitte C. Madrian is the Dean and Marriott Distinguished Professor in the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business where she has a joint appointment in the Department of Finance and the George W. Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics. Before coming to BYU, she was on the faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School (2006-2018), the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School (2003-2006), the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (1995-2003) and the Harvard University Economics Department (1993-1995). She is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and served as co-director of the NBER Household Finance working group from 2010-2018. Dr. Madrian’s current research focuses on behavioral economics and household finance, with a particular focus on household saving and investment behavior. Her work in this area has impacted the design of employer-sponsored savings plans in the U.S. and has influenced pension reform legislation both in the U.S. and abroad. She also uses the lens of behavioral economics to understand health behaviors and improve health outcomes. Dr. Madrian received her Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and studied economics as an undergraduate at Brigham Young University. She is a recipient of the Skandia Research Prize for outstanding research on “Long-Term Savings” with relevance for banking, insurance, and financial services (2019), the Retirement Income Industry Association Achievement in Applied Retirement Research Award (2015) and a three-time recipient of the TIAA Paul A. Samuelson Award for Scholarly Research on Lifelong Financial Security (2002, 2011 and 2017).

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