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Retirement Models and Debates

RN01S04

Thu 27. 8.  16:00 - 17:30
room FA 202

Build your own pension: the framing of choice in mass media debates in Norway

RN01

Grødem, Anne Skevik (1); Hagelund, Anniken (1,2)
1: Institute for Social Research, Norway; 2: Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo

Norway’s pension reform from 2011 implied three main changes: benefits can be drawn fully or partially between age 62 and 75 on actuarially neutral terms, pension rights are subjected to a life expectancy adjustment, and running benefits are to be indexed at a rate slightly below the development in wages. A key point is that the retirement age is made more flexible, but that individuals also have to make choices on when to retire and carry the costs of early retirement themselves. The element of choice is made even more complex considering that the state pension is only one part of the total pensions system, which also consists of a contractual pension scheme (AFP), occupational pension schemes and private pension insurance. The new architecture of old age pensions implies that individuals are faced with a number of decisions to make, decisions that will influence their level of living as old age pensioners: when to retire, which employer to work for (given variations in pension schemes), whether to sign up for pension insurance. Individuals will have varying capacities, both in terms of knowledge and resources, to make such choices. In this paper, we ask how the issues of choice for citizens in various situations are framed in the media discourse. Which choices are highlighted, are various capacities for choice discussed, and which subgroups – if any – create particular concern? Not least, who puts down the premises for this discourse? What is the role of democratically elected actors versus the social partners and commercial interests? Conceptually, we start from the ongoing debate in consumer choice in social policy, and the challenges the rhetoric of choice constitutes for social solidarity and equality. Empirically, our material consists of newspaper coverage of the pension reform between 2004 and 2014.