Year of Publication


Document Type



Graduate School



First Advisor

Graham D. Rowles


Issues of pension viability are at the forefront of gerontological debate. The uncertainty of long-term effects of the societal aging process on public pensions and the constant public policy struggle to maintain income levels among pensioners are critical points of discussion. As existing pension policies are examined and amended, policymakers increasingly rely on experts of pension research and income inequality for policy frameworks. Gosta Esping-Andersen's (1990) Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism has provided the seminal typology for nearly two decades. His typology consists of three regimes: liberal, conservative, and social-democratic. The purpose of this research was to examine and compare the outcomes of historical pension policy in a social-democratic nation (Finland) with pension-receiving cohorts in a comparison nation of each regime: liberal (the United States), conservative (Germany), and social-democratic (Sweden). Specific aims were: to investigate the continuing viability of Esping-Andersen's typology at a national (macro) level; to explore a new analytical approach by disaggregating the population and conducting micro analyses; and to examine the value of using more sensitive inequality indices (Atkinson and Theil) in lieu of the commonly used Gini Index. Finland provides a case study focus of the comparative analysis. Analysis of Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) data confirms that Esping-Andersen's typology remains viable at the macro level for the liberal United States. However, conservative Germany and social-democratic Sweden and Finland may be shifting their respective classifications with possible convergence of the conservative and social-democratic regimes info a European regime.