Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Government-run Pensions: Perhaps the Only Political Promise Former Yugoslavs Believe In

Former Yugoslavs are famous for being cynical about almost anything to do with governments and politicians. Tell them you trust a promise made by the US, Serbian, or Croatian governments and they'll scoff loudly at your naivete.

Except for one thing.

Their credulous, child-like faith in government-run pensions.

I do not have any American-born friends who honestly, completely trust that Social Security will be there for them when they hit retirement age. Not 100% guaranteed. We love America, but we're not blind to her failings.

My husband just can't imagine this. Of course there will be Social Security!!!

I guess you base your beliefs on your experiences. In his experience, countries may fall apart, your neighborhood may be bombed, inflation may hit 10,000%, the economy be wrenched from socialism to capitalism, etc.; but, no matter what, old people will always get their government pensions. True, the payments may not be as high as originally promised, but you'll get something, and you'll get it every month too.


Tom C said...

I too have noticed this attitude toward pension perma-solvency with my wife's family in Serbia.
I thought it odd too until I thought about my father.

Many of those from his generation worked for what were called "cradle to grave corporations". Benefits were astounding really. Indeed attainment of his pension from GM was the pinnacle of his entire career.

Today you can see this attitude linger with Teachers unions and the UAW. To these people attainment of the pension is really a forgone conclusion. A pension default to them is unthinkable. Until a few years ago a cut back in retirement health care was also unimaginable.

I had this discussion regarding sustainability of defined benefit pension systems in grad school. THe professor was quite insightful UNTIL the discussion turned to tenure. I noticed the same resistance toward viewing that scheme as anything other than carved in stone.

I guess some people need a guarantee in life to persevere. A mirage will do if nothing else.

Mario said...

EU pensions are based on old German system which had 4 workers for each retiree. It is less than 2 now and funds are strugling. Croatia stealed few monthly installements. Serbia pays very little. Slovenia has 1.500 Euro limit but few thousand special cases. Economy and finance were not teached in ex-YU schools.

Pero said...

Government-run pension system exists in every European country including UK. Due to a fact that European population is getting older, now less then 2 workers pays for one retiree. The only country that I know that doesn’t have government-run pension system and health insurance for everybody is USA (not sure about Canada).
If we believe in Social Security that is not child-like faith. That is something common in Europe and that is a reason why Obama wants to change that in USA.