Ageing as Equals: Distributive Justice in Retirement Pensions

Dissertation, Université Catholique de Louvain (2022)
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Abstract

Despite being increasingly available to us all, retirement pensions remain unequally distributed: between rich and poor, young and old, men and women, and possibly different generations. As this topic receives little attention in moral and political philosophy, the articles in this thesis aim to deliver an original account of justice in retirement pensions along liberal egalitarian lines. The first part defends retirement pensions as a distribution of free time. It shows that including free time in the list of goods that liberal egalitarians prioritise is plausible and avoids problems that would otherwise arise with other candidates, most notably leisure. Retirement as free time is an essential feature of liberal egalitarian societies by (re)distributing the means to pursue any life project, and especially valuable for the poor who work and contribute the longest. The second part makes a case for 'libertirement', a proposal to increase the freedom to enjoy free time across life, as a matter of justice between those who live long and those who die early. Specifically, I propose adding reverse pensions and sabbaticals on top of old-age retirement. Besides showing the importance of longevity for age-group justice, I also draw implications for distributing unconditional basic income and income taxes across life, which I suggest may offer alternative paths to libertirement. Finally, the third part discusses the cases of pension inequality between genders and generations, pushing us to refine our account further. I conclude that there is often a mismatch between liberal egalitarian justice and the design of retirement schemes. The solution is often but not always to reform these systems. Sometimes, we have reasons to revise our very own principles of justice.

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Manuel Sá Valente
Universidade do Minho

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