As pension schemes are being redesigned, and Defined Contribution schemes become the norm, experts are increasingly calling on government to improve pension/retirement education for school leavers.
But is there any evidence, anywhere in the world, that “educating” school children makes any difference at all to retirement planning at any point in the lifecourse? I know of none, but would be really interested if anyone else does. Cynical old me thinks it’s a useless diversion from the real issue which is role-of-the-state (and effectively, compulsory old age income provision through taxation, however branded) and the role of voluntarism in the private sector. Voluntary retirement provision suffers from a host of complex structural and psychological problems (like low paid jobs, poor terms and conditions, pensions designed to favour the better off, short termism, financial complexity, debt, competing financial needs e.g. housing and children, moral hazards relating to the benefits system etc etc etc) which are now very well documented and are really very difficult to solve. And what would we teach anyway? The most educated, highly skilled, highly specialised, financial managers were unable to prevent a global financial crisis that wiped out the values of equities and has left older people in very difficult circumstances with no income from their mostly modest savings. I know many highly skilled, highly educated, very well advised professional people who had their whole pension in Equitable Life. Which incidentially was also recommended by the Consumer Association (Which) as a Best Buy for many years. Tricky.