2020 Uehiro Lectures (3/3)

How to Pool Risks Across Generations: The Case for Collective Pensions

We are delighted to announce that Professor Michael Otsuka is to deliver the 2020 Annual Uehiro Lectures in Practical Ethics. 

Series title: How to pool risks across generations: the case for collective pensions

All three lectures will take place at 3.30 - 5.15pm online via Zoom webinar.

Lecture 3: The case for an unfunded pay as you go (PAYG) pension

The previous two lectures grappled with various challenges that funded collective pension schemes face. In the final lecture, I ask whether an unfunded 'pay as you go' (PAYG) approach might provide a solution. With PAYG, money is directly transferred from those who are currently working to pay the pensions of those who are currently retired. Rather than drawing from a pension fund consisting of a portfolio of financial assets, these pensions are paid out of the Treasury's coffers. The pension one is entitled to in retirement is often, however, a function of, even though not funded by, the pensions contributions one has made during one’s working life. I explore the extent to which a PAYG pension can be justified as a form of indirect reciprocity that cascades down generations. This contrasts with a redistributive concern to mitigate the inequality between those who are young, healthy, able-bodied, and productive and those who are elderly, infirm, and out of work. I explore claims inspired by Ken Binmore and Joseph Heath that PAYG pensions in which each generation pays the pensions of the previous generation can be justified as in mutually advantageous Nash equilibrium. I also discuss the relevance to the case for PAYG of Thomas Piketty's claim that r > g, where "r" is the rate of return on capital and "g" is the rate of growth of the economy.

Registration: Public event - all welcome. To register on Zoom for the event please use the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2k7YE52eTD6KHuIAINIULw

Michael Otsuka is a Professor of Philosophy at the London School of Economics. He is the author of Libertarianism without Inequality (OUP 2003) plus a number of articles in journals such as Philosophy & Public Affairs and Ethics, mainly on topics in normative ethics and distributive justice. His current research interests encompass prioritarianism, egalitarianism, and the separateness of persons; collective goods and the benefits of cooperation; risk-pooling, pensions, and insurance; the fairness and value of risks and chances of benefits; property ownership and the nature of money; and left-libertarianism versus social democracy and socialism. The focus of his teaching is on philosophy and public policy as well as moral and political philosophy. He post blogs on Medium on issues related to public policy -- mainly on pensions but also on health insurance, the measure of inflation, and the funding of higher education. For the impact of his pensions blogs, Otsuka was ranked #23 of 50, alongside Vice Chancellors, Ministers of State, and top civil servants, on the ‘UK Higher Education Power List’ 2018 of those who had the most influence on this higher education sector that year. According to the assessors: “Pension schemes are complex beasts, with a large number of nested assumptions. So it takes a skilled philosopher to unpick the logic and follow the trails of meaning to their inherent contradictions. In Michael, USS actuaries found a formidable opponent, and it is no exaggeration to say his blog posts changed the course of the dispute.”

For details and booking information for Lecture 1 go to https://www.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/event/2020-uehiro-lectures-1/3-moral-philosophy-seminar
For details and booking information for Lecture 2 go to https://www.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/event/2020-uehiro-lectures-2/3