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TFI Conference: Polish employees on better pensions

Posted on April 24, 2019

On Monday, 15 April 2019 behavioural scientist dr. Laura Straeter and I, research lead of TFI Stefan van Woelderen, left the TFI conference in Warsaw intrigued by the upcoming reforms in the Polish pension system for employees. This newly introduced system is quasi-voluntary and is planned to be gradually introduced from the 1st of July onwards. Recent data shows that Polish people typically do not save enough for their pension, a phenomenon that cannot entirely be explained by income levels. Therefore, this reform carries the potential to change the lives of many Polish employees.

Our colleagues chief economist Poland Rafal Benecki and economist dr. Karol Pogorzelski organised, hosted, moderated and presented the conference flawlessly. ING Poland CEO Brunon Bartkiewicz opened the conference and participated in the panel discussion with, among others, pension industry and employer representatives. Not only Polish economists were represented, the conference invited many international guests as well. Laura and I represented the Think Forward Initiative, while our London-based Group Research colleagues, behavioural scientist Jessica Exton and former colleague Fleur Doidge, also gained new perspectives.

“Behavioural interventions might be needed to persuade Polish employees to enrol for the new system.”

The new pension saving system is beneficial for an employee’s point of view, as their contributions are more than matched with employer’s and government contributions. Nevertheless, the decision to enrol is not evident for many. Several key factors are at play here, which can be summarised to the word ‘mistrust’ towards the pension system. What can be done to counter this mistrust? Behavioural science might contribute to, at least partially, fix this. Therefore, keynote speaker professor dr. Elisabeth Brüggen (Maastricht University) shared insights on to what extent behavioural interventions such as auto enrolment, visualisation and communication framing are effective. These behavioural interventions might be needed to persuade Polish employees to enrol for the new system.

The coming months we plan to keenly follow whether Polish employees will choose to enrol or not. Furthermore, my economist colleagues Rafal Benecki and Karol Pogorzelski are planning to provide a fuller coverage of the event and its content including the TFI-funded paper ‘Why planning for retirement is difficult? Behavioral biases hindering long-term savings’ as written and presented by dr. Michał Krawczyk (University of Warsaw). Just as another TFI-funded paper ‘Strategies of caring for elderly in Poland and Europe’ by dr. Anna Nicińska (University of Warsaw).