The politics of pension reform: Lessons from public attitudes in Greece

Owen O'Donnell*, Platon Tinios

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlePopular

19 Citations (Scopus)


While the construction of a rational case for pension reform is often straightforward, the political implementation of such reform can be somewhat more difficult. In large part, this can be attributed to sceptical public opinion. The precise role played by public opinion in constraining the political feasibility of pension reform is, however, unclear. The purpose of this paper is to distil the ways in which public attitudes influence pension reform. This is done through examining survey data from Greece, where progress with the implementation of pension reform has been particularly modest. Political opposition to pension reform appears to be rooted in a general lack of public appreciation of the case for reform combined with the desire to protect interest group privileges. Public ignorance and insecurity breed attitudes not conducive to reform. Public attitudes do not simply act as a given constraint on reform but are a product of the structure of the pension system and the reform process itself. In this path-dependent process, implementation of a reform agenda of rationalisation is more difficult from the starting point of a severely fragmented and distorted system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-281
Number of pages20
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003


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