Posts Tagged ‘Iceland’

universal pensions in Iceland?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

The US Social Security Administration (SSA) has published, since 1937, very useful periodic reports on “Social Security Programs Throughout the World“. I often consult these volumes for information on specific countries. For the first time, I decided to use these reports to examine changes, over time, in the number of countries with universal pensions.

The SSA consistently describes Iceland’s basic old-age pension as a “universal pension”. In an article published in World Development (January 2007) p. 38, I classified Iceland as a country with “recovery-conditioned” basic pensions, i.e. pensions that are clawed back from other income that otherwise qualified applicants declare. This is a form of income-testing, so such a pension is clearly not universal. It is subject to an income test, in addition to the usual age and residence tests.

Nonetheless, nearly all sources, including the Government of Iceland, describe the pension as ‘universal’, most often with no explanation.

The ILO (International labour Organisation) follows the crowd in describing Iceland’s non-contributory pension as “universal”. But the ILO helpfully provides detailed information:

8. National basic pension – Old age pension

No means-test

Determining factors in old-age pension are duration of residence in Iceland and income. Pension rights are calculated pro rata according to periods of residence, minimum is 3 years and maximum 40 years. Old-age pension for a single person after 40 years of residence: Full basic old-age pension (grunnl

Iceland’s recovery from the banking crisis

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Iceland was one of the earliest and largest victims of the global financial crisis of 2008. Much has been written of the fact that the small (population 320,000) country devalued its currency sharply, and refused to bail out its recently privatised banks.

But how well is Iceland doing today? Aggregate GDP data (see chart below) reveal only part of the story. FT Nordic Correspondent Richard Milne looks at the human dimension with interviews of seven Icelanders: an author, a businessman, a member of parliament, a government minister, an academic, a banker, and a human rights lawyer.

The most positive interview is that of the academic:


Iceland’s recovery

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Iceland in 2008 was the first country to be hit by the global financial crisis, yet we now hear little about the country. Why? Primarily because it has fared better than Ireland, Spain and other countries that followed. Tiny Iceland (population 320,000), defying conventional wisdom, adopted what turned out to be wise policies following the spectacular collapse of its bloated banking sector.

While everyone else rushed to give taxpayers money to the banks, Iceland let them fail. While the bankers at the heart of the crisis were protected and in some cases rewarded in the US and Europe, in Iceland they were jailed and while the rest of Europe embarked on a social spending slashing binge, Iceland expanded its social safety net.

Iceland and the financial crisis

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The population of Iceland has refused

Iceland after the financial crisis

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

In the space of a few days last October Iceland