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Aging, Pension Economics and Finance (Master)


Università della Svizzera italiana, Fall 2012

The Center for Economic Research on Aging, Pensions and Health is launching two master courses in Aging, Pension Economics and Finance. The courses' content covers issues in economics, insurance and finance, to give students an in depth overview of the main issues related to pensions. It address questions such as: What is the role of pensions in a society? How are pension systems structured around the world in terms of the relative importance of first and second pillar? What are the most effective policy reforms to address issues of financial turmoil and ageing populations? What are the driving forces regarding intergenerational redistribution? What aspects of insurance are relevant? What is the impact of retirement savings in the financial markets? How should pension assets be invested?

Introduction to Institutions and Economics of Pensions and Aging (3 credits)

The course is offered to students in the Masters in Finance, Master in Financial Communication, Master in Management and Master in Public Management and Policy. The course is structured in two teaching modules and a final symposium.

Teaching modules

  1. Pensions and Institutions: Institutions and Policy: Pension systems and institutions. Public and private pension systems. First pillar: defined benefit (DB) or notional defined contribution (NDC); second pillar pension plans: DB and DC. Pension policy in Switzerland and in other countries. Challenges to the pension systems. Discussion of reform projects.
  2. Theoretical Foundations: Public economics aspects: the relative importance of first pillar pay-as-you-go vs. second pillar, funded system; the role of redistribution of resources and sharing of risks in the first pillar; tax treatment of pensions. Microeconomics of pensions, including the effects of mandatory first and second pillar on the labour supply and saving decisions. Insurance aspects of pensions. The macroeconomic impact of pensions on labor and capital markets.


At the end of the semester, a one day symposium will take place to have a general discussion of the relevant issues addressed in class, and to focus on the current challenges, with a particular emphasis on the first and second pillar of the Swiss pension system. Speakers at the symposium will be pension experts from academia, local and international institutions and financial sector.

Pension Economics and Finance (3 credits)

The course is targeted mainly to students in the Masters in Finance and Master in Financial Communication. The course is structured in two teaching modules.

Teaching modules

  1. Pension Economics: Labour force participation and retirement. Empirical micro aspects of pension economics (e.g. annuities vs. lump-sum payments). Pensions in the overall economy. Empirical macro models of pensions. Optimal design of collective pension plans. Challenges of an aging population. Political economy of pensions.
  2. Pension Finance: Financial functioning of a pension fund. Funding ratio. Asset management. Regulation of pension assets.