The International Research Seminar took place in Oslo from 6 to 8 May 2013. Organized by the ISSA, the event was hosted by the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service's (NAV) Directorate of Labour and Welfare.
The Seminar was a key platform for the debate and discussion of key themes impacting social security now and in the future. It touched on the nature of what social security provides and how it can adapt to future external changes.
This Seminar focussed on two different but interrelated questions:
- What is an adequate benefit and what measures can social security take to ensure such benefits are provided in the future?
- What are key Megatrends likely to impact on social security and what can administrations do to mitigate and influence these trends?
Megatrends and their impact on social security
Social security institutions increasingly need to adapt to complex external trends that significantly influence the demand for their benefits and services and their ability to meet their objectives. This session will look at a range of different megatrends likely to arise in the years and decades ahead and predicts their impact on the economy, demographics, social environment and ultimately social security systems. The session featured presentations from experts on a range of different megatrends and featured results from the ISSA project on megatrends.
Parallel sessions: Your megatrends Impact of a featured future trend on social security
This consisted of two parallel sessions featuring possible future changes in labour market structures and the demographic environment respectively and their impact on social security. The objective of this session was to focus on how social security administrations can anticipate and respond effectively to these future changes and how specific measures taken by social security can actually influence the megatrend itself.
Defining and measuring the adequacy of retirement benefits
In many parts of the world, growing financial and fiscal pressures are putting on the level and quality of benefits and services that administrations can provide. At the same time, there is recognition that social security can only be effective if it provides benefits that are adequate. But what is an adequate benefit? Is it just the financial level of benefits provided often measured by a replacement rate or something more complex? This session considered a wider measure of adequacy for retirement benefits and features the initial results of the ISSA project on retirement adequacy. The implications of this multi-variable measure of adequacy has potentially significant implications for social security notably, that it can be a more effective indicator of whether benefits are appropriate.
Assessing the adequacy of health care benefits
The session discussed how the adequacy of health care benefits can be defined, analysed and measured. Measuring outputs of health care spending has always been challenging; the rates of increase in health spending and future changes in the environment in which health systems will be operating means that this issue is likely to become increasingly important.
Parallel sessions: Challenges of providing adequate benefits
This part of the seminar consisted of two parallel sessions featuring the challenges of providing adequate unemployment and retirement benefits respectively. It will highlight some innovative approaches in these branches as a basis for further discussion on what works. The session on unemployment benefits focussed on the challenge of providing adequate benefits whilst ensuring that appropriate incentives are created through how benefits and services are structured and delivered. In respect of retirement benefits, a number of examples of how social security administrations have addressed the issue of improving adequacy were featured.
Addressing megatrends and improving adequacy: challenges, impacts and practical solutions
This session summarised the findings and discussion from days one and two of the Seminar.
The first part provided a synthesis of ten key impacts of the different megatrends discussed and highlighted ten measures that social security administrations and policy measures have taken and can take to address the challenges raised.
The second part provided a synthesis of ten key challenges which impact the ability to provide adequate benefits and, using the experiences and discussions of day two, highlighted ten measures that social security administrations and policy measures have taken and can take to improve benefit adequacy.