International Tax and Public Finance

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 753–776 | Cite as

The political economy of derived pension rights

  • M.-L. Leroux
  • P. Pestieau


Derived pension rights (including survivor benefits and spousal compensations for one-earner couples) exist in most Social Security systems but with variable generosity. They are mainly viewed as a means to alleviate poverty among older women living alone. The purpose of this paper is to explain how they can emerge from a political economy process when Social Security is a combination of Bismarckian and Beveridgean pillars. We find that the pension system should be contributive but with a positive level of derived rights. We also show that such a system encourages stay-at-home wives, thus revealing an unpleasant trade-off between female labor participation and poverty alleviation.


Social Security Derived pension rights Majority voting Individualization of pension rights 

JEL Classification

D72 D78 H55 



We would like to thank Yvonne Adema, Carole Bonnet and Erik Schokkaert as well as an anonymous referee for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département des Sciences ÉconomiquesESG UQAMSucc. Centre-ville, MontréalCanada
  2. 2.COREUniversité Catholique de LouvainLouvain la NeuveBelgium
  3. 3.CESifoMunichGermany
  4. 4.CREPP, CORE, PSE and CEPRUniversity of LiegeLiegeFrance

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