Thanks, Otto! 125 years of pensions

When: 28-29 October

Where: Allianz Forum, Berlin

Thanks, Otto! participants Thanks, Otto! participants (c) Berno Buff The Thanks, Otto! conference marked the 125th anniversary of the world’s first public pension in Germany by Otto von Bismarck.

Bismarck’s pension model has influenced the development of pension systems around the world. 

The fact that the majority of people in high income countries can expect to receive a pension when they get older is a massive policy success.

However, this success has not been global, and in low and middle income countries only 25 % of older people receive a pension.

The world has changed significantly since Bismarck’s days and continues to change today. High levels of informality and migration have transformed the expected trajectory of labour markets. While extreme poverty is declining, inequality has dramatically increased.

Population ageing is challenging existing institutions, societal structures and people’s expectations of old age. Other shifts such as an increased recognition of the rights of older people, issues surrounding the sustainability of pensions and concerns about intergenerational fairness are also changing debates on ageing and pensions.

On 28 and 29 of October 2014 at the Allianz Forum in Berlin, we brought together academics, practitioners, governments, civil society and members of the private sector working on social policy and pensions in Germany and around the world.

“Thanks, Otto! 125 years of pensions and new global perspectives” looked at the history of Bismarck’s pension, the impact it has had on pension policy, and explored the need to develop new models that respond to the realities of the world today and into the future.

Some of the questions asked at the conference included:

  • What role do pensions play, what challenges are we facing and how are countries responding to these challenges?
  • What is the future of retirement, how will we fund pensions in the context of demographic ageing and what will the pension models of the future be?
  • What role can development cooperation play?

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