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Democratic Governance of Funded Pension Schemes (DEEPEN)

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Democratic Governance of Funded Pension Schemes (DEEPEN)

DEEPEN project image NORFACE

What is the NORFACE funding programme?

New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe (NORFACE) is a partnership of national research funding agencies in Europe dedicated to leading and developing opportunities for scientists in the area of social and behavioural sciences.

NORFACE plays an important part in responding to the grand societal challenges by promoting research of the highest quality, sharing best practices among research funders and especially by making international collaboration between social scientists in Europe possible. (See website for further information: (opens in a new window)https://www.norface.net/)

Project outline

DEEPEN is a NORFACE-funded research project (2020-2023), that explores the democratic governance of capital-funded occupational pension schemes in Europe. We investigate how governments, regulators and labour market actors govern funded pensions and whether participants are satisfied with pension fund performance. The project focuses on six European countries: Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Ireland and Spain.

Four work packages investigate the following research questions:

  1. How does national policy define participant influence on funded pension provision?
  2. How do stakeholders use pension fund governance to influence investment policy?
  3. How have capital-funded pension schemes performed in terms of pension outcomes across European welfare states?
  4. To what extent are individual attitudes on pension investment aligned with these inputs and outputs?

The project combines statistical analysis of quantitative data with comparative case studies based on interviews and document analysis to answer these research questions.

UCD Project Team

Lead Investigator 

(opens in a new window)Karen M. Anderson is Associate Professor of Social Policy at University College Dublin. Her research focuses on comparative social policy development, the financialization of welfare, and the impact of Europeanization on national welfare states. She is the author of Social Policy in the European Union (Palgrave, 2015) and the editor (with Ellen M. Immergut, Camilla Devitt, and Tamara Popic) of the Handbook of Health Politics in Europe (Oxford University Press, 2021). She also edited (with Ellen M. Immergut and Isabelle Schulze) the Handbook of West European Pension Politics (Oxford University Press, 2007). Her work has been published in Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, Journal of European Public Policy, Zeitschrift für Sozialreform, West European Politics, Canadian Journal of SociologyJournal for Labour Market Research, and the Journal of Public Policy. Karen is also the Chair-Elect of the Council for European Studies. Her two-year term begins in July 2021.

Postdoctoral researcher:

(opens in a new window)Hayley James is a post-doc researcher at University College Dublin. Hayley’s research interests concern anthropological and sociological perspectives on money, finance and value, and how they intersect with ageing and the lifecourse. Her Thesis, completed at the University of Manchester, examined the impact of automatic enrolment into workplace pensions in the UK on individual decision making using a qualitative research methodology (entitled Connecting Policy with the Personal: UK pension reforms and individual financial decision making). Her work was collaboratively sponsored by the Pensions Policy Institute, who published reports on her research findings on Threshold Adults, (opens in a new window)which discusses how young people put off pension saving until they feel established in adult life and (opens in a new window)engagement pathways in workplace pension saving . The first academic article from her thesis, which considers how people make decisions about later life, has been published in the (opens in a new window)Journal of Ageing Studies, with further articles forthcoming. 

Other Country Team members

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April 13 – 15: BSA Annual Conference 2021: Remaking the Future. Hayley James will be presenting “Workplace pension saving in emerging adulthood after automatic enrolment.” 

May 21, Leiden Political Economy Group (LPEG): Philipp Golka will be presenting his paper “Normative and constructive views of legitimacy in the financial governance of sustainability: the case of impact investing”.

June 21-25, Council for European Studies (CES) conference: The DEEPEN team will be presenting its first research findings from the project on the “Democratic Legitimacy of Pension Governance” panel in the political economy and welfare research stream. Presentations by Karen Anderson and Hayley James, Juan Fernandez and Sara Gonzales, Tobias Wiss and Thomas Mayer, and by Philipp Golka and Natascha van der Zwan. Click (opens in a new window)here for information.

July 2-5, Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) conference: Philipp Golka and Natascha van der Zwan will be presenting their paper “Pension Governance in the Netherlands. Towards a Democratization of Finance?”

Contact the UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice

Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington Building, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 8198 | E: sp-sw-sj@ucd.ie |