The Top Three Pension Systems: Denmark, Finland, and the Netherlands

Svend E. Hougaard Jensen, Jukka Lassila, Niku Määttänen, Tarmo Valkonen, Ed Westerhout

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


According to the 2018 Mercer Global Pension Index, the pension systems of Denmark, Finland, and the Netherlands are the best three in the world. They ensure a minimum old age income for all and provide relatively high replacement rates for a large majority of citizens. At the same time, their fiscal sustainability is relatively robust with respect to population aging. This article seeks to identify differences and similarities between these three pension systems, including the institutional framework within which they operate. The authors emphasize the collective and compulsory nature of the earnings-related pension schemes and the important role for social partners in decision making as their common elements of success. They also discuss the most important challenges these systems face, namely, how to maintain the legitimacy of their decision-making processes given declining unionization and how to avoid restricting individual choices too much.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Retirement
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)76-82
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Retirement
  • Social security
  • Pension funds
  • Wealth management

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