Political scientist Natascha van der Zwan will discuss how the simultaneous development of financial markets and the welfare state influenced political choices with regard to the Dutch pension system.
About the Seminar
Dr. Natascha van der Zwan’s project at NIAS is a historical political economy of the Dutch pension system, that investigates how the mutually constitutive relationship between the welfare state and the financial system shaped its development. Despite the international prominence of this case in academic scholarship and policy circles, a historical account of the Dutch pension system that integrates the study of social and financial policy has not yet been written. During this seminar, Dr. van der Zwan will present one of her case studies: the investment politics of Dutch pension fund for public employees, ABP (Algemeen Burgerlijk Pensioenfonds). Combining both quantitative and qualitative analysis, the research maps the financial flows between ABP and the broader political economy before and after WW2, while at the same time shedding light on the political considerations that informed the fund’s investment policies. Van der Zwan’s research shows how over time ABP´s investment politics became increasingly caught between the political interests of the state on the one hand and the dictates of dominant financial theories on the other hand.
The history of the ABP is indicative of the centrality of pension funds to the Dutch political economy. Contrary to traditional bank-based or stock-market based systems, the presence of these large funds have allowed the Netherlands to combine a generous welfare state with high financial development. Still, as the case study shows, the ongoing financialization of the welfare state has coincided with a depoliticization of pension investment. The result is a loss of public control over the flows of capital that emanate from the Dutch pension funds on the one hand and growing instability within the private pension system on the other hand.
About NIAS Seminars
NIAS Seminars are aimed to stimulate scientific cross-pollination within the NIAS academic community, but seminars are open to others who are interested. Please let us know if you wish to attend.