Social policies and data

Seminar on the Life Risks, Life Course and Social Policy


Agenda    Seminar proceedings

Life Risks, Life Course and Social Policy
OECD, Paris, Thursday 31 may - Friday 1st June 2007
International Energy Agency building, 9 rue de la Fédération, Paris 15

For many decades, social policy interventions were limited to assist and insure against a small number of well defined risks. As a result of diverse and ongoing social trends, however, the social order based on standard employment relations, the male breadwinner model and social security in defined but exceptional circumstances has changed.  New risks have emerged and are often mutually reinforcing. Different groups of individuals are likely to frame and respond to risks differently. The development of new risks, or the additional complexity of those risks already existing, raises key questions for social policy. Recognising these developments, the 2005 Meeting of OECD Social Affairs Ministers asked the OECD Secretariat to undertake work on the topic of Life risks, the life course and social policy, noting that “The OECD should identify how social and economic goals can be best achieved, for example by policy interventions at certain critical 'transition points' or by redistribution of income from one point in the life course to another. The OECD should further assess the best ways of financing social policies across the life course.”
In order to address these issues, the OECD is holding a seminar in Paris on May 31 and 1 June 2007 to develop responses to these emerging challenges. The fundamental policy question to be addressed in the seminar is whether the current designs of social protection systems in OECD societies are well-suited to contemporary life course realities.  The seminar will look in detail at recent policy developments in OECD countries to develop more flexible time-based social policies, as well as related issues, such as asset-based welfare programmes, as well as policies to encourage redistribution of income and/or time over the life course and how these might be structured most effectively.


Thursday 31 May

Chair: Martine Durand, Deputy Director, Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD

"The life course perspective and social policies – an overview of the issues" [DELSA/ELSA/WP1(2007)8]
This paper will provide a broad review of the role and usefulness of life course concepts in developing new approaches to social policy, discussing the nature of social and economic changes calling for a new life-course perspective and the evidence for increased variability in life course experiences.
Lans Bovenberg, Tilburg University, the Netherlands (Powerpoint presentation)

Discussion :  Peter Hicks, Human Resources and Social Development, Canada
Room Document 1 - Integrating life-course perspectives into policy analysis

15.15 Coffee Break

15.30 SESSION 1: Review of policies to redistribute time across the life course
Chair: Luc Masure, Bureau fédéral du plan, Belgium

If individuals have greater freedom to allocate time over the life course as they wish, what will be the implications for careers and aggregate labour supply? The objective of these papers and discussion is to review available evidence from OECD countries on the nature and impact of different approaches to redistribute time or resources across the life course, for example to facilitate the transition into retirement or to take time out of paid work for caring or studying.

Paper 1 [DELSA/ELSA/WP1(2007)1]: This paper will evaluate the role and effectiveness of existing and alternative policies to assist individuals and families in their roles as carers, both of children and dependent adults.
Colette Fagan, University of Manchester, United Kingdom (Powerpoint presentation)

Discussion:  Willem Adema, Principal Administrator, Social Policy Division, OECD

16.10 Paper 2 [DELSA/ELSA/WP1(2007)2]: Ageing and life course issues
This paper and discussion will focus on ageing and the life course, reviewing evidence on programmes designed to facilitate the transition into retirement, for example through part-time work or phased retirement.
Stephanie Devisscher, IDEA Consult, Belgium (Powerpoint presentation)

16.30 Paper 3 [DELSA/ELSA/WP1(2007)3]: Ins and outs of the Dutch Life Course Savings Scheme
This paper reviews the contents and first results of the Life Course Savings Scheme introduced in the Netherlands in 2006
Lei Delsen, Radboud University, Nijmegen (Powerpoint presentation)

16.50 Discussion:  Gerry Mangan, Office for Social Inclusion, Ireland

17.30 Finish of Day 1

Friday 1st June

9.30 SESSION 1 (Cont’d): Paper 4 [DELSA/ELSA/WP1(2007)4]: Life course policies and the labour market
Chair: Robyn McKay, Department of Family, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Australia
(Powerpoint presentation)

This paper will concentrate on the implications for the labour market of different approaches to redistribute time or resources across the life course
Christine Erhel, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - Université Panthéon Sorbonne - Paris I
(Powerpoint presentation)
Discussion:  Jussi Toppila, Ministry of Labour, Finland

10.30 Coffee Break

11.00 SESSION 2: Asset-based social programs: A critical analysis of current initiatives
Chair: Mark Pearson, Head, Social Policy Division, OECD

Paper 5 [DELSA/ELSA/WP1(2007)5]: This paper provides a critical evaluation of the characteristics and effectiveness of the range of different assets-based welfare programmes in OECD countries, such as, for example, the Child Trust Fund in the United Kingdom, as well as proposals for capitalized benefits and other investment programmes.
Michael Mendelson, Caledon Institute of Social Policy, Ottawa, Canada (Powerpoint presentation)

Discussion: Elaine Kempson, University of Bristol (Powerpoint presentation)

12.00 SESSION 3: Assets-testing in social assistance programmes – a review

Chair: Sophie Boissard, Directrice générale du Centre d'analyse stratégique
Paper 6 [DELSA/ELSA/WP1(2007)6]: This paper reviews different means-tested social assistance programmes in OECD countries, and discusses possible effects of these programmes on the savings behaviour of recipients, and implications for self-reliance.
Ivar Lødemel, Research Director, GIV, Oslo University College, Norway (Powerpoint presentation)

Discussion: Amilcar Moreira, Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing, Trinity College, Dublin

13.00 –14.30 LUNCH

14.30 SESSION 4: Evidence on redistribution across the life course in existing social protection systems
To what extent do existing social policies in OECD countries redistribute from rich to poor and to what extent do they redistribute across the lifetime of individuals?
Chair: Mark Pearson, Social Policy Division, OECD

Paper 7 [DELSA/ELSA/WP1(2007)7]: This paper will review available evidence from OECD countries on the extent to which different systems of social protection redistribute across the life course (or redistribute between individuals).
Ann-Charlotte Ståhlberg, Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI), Stockholm University (Powerpoint presentation)

Discussion: Peter Whiteford, Principal Administrator, OECD (Powerpoint presentation)

Lans Bovenberg; Peter Hicks; Robyn McKay; Martine Durand

16.30 End of seminar

If you wish to attend this seminar, please contact Mr. Peter Whiteford ( or Anna Cristina D'Addio (