Mini-Conference on Social Security Reforms in Europe

EUI (PWC) – Banco de España

April 8, 2021, 16:00 – 19:00 (CET) on-line



Since the beginning of the 21st Century, Europe has experienced the financial and euro crises and, with the rest of the world, is experiencing now the Covid-19 crisis. The financial crisis was partially exogenous but became endogenous with the euro debt crisis. Covid-19 has been unpredictable and, to a large extent, exogenous. Countries around the world are still reacting to this shock and the European Union has launched the Next Generation EU programme. However, thinking about the next generation, and beyond, we should think about what is likely to be the next crisis. This one is endogenous and predictable: the crisis of social security pay-as-you-go (PAYG) systems due to the demographic tsunami that many countries will undergo in the next decades!

The on-line mini-conference, jointly organized by the Pierre Werner Chair of the European University Institute (RSCAS) and the Banco de España, will focus on social security reforms that can help to prevent this next crisis. In the first part, three research papers will be presented and discussed that focus on the design and financial aspects, as well as an overall alternative to the PAYG system. This (Backpack) alternative is the starting point of the second part in which a panel will discuss challenges and reforms of European PAYG systems.

Conference programme

> Download the conference programme (PDF)


16.00 – 17:30

Part I: Current research on social security reforms

Chair: Ramon Marimon (EUI and UPF – Barcelona GSE)

  • Linda Sandris Larsen (Copenhagen Business School), joint with Claus Munk (CBS): “The design and welfare implications of mandatory pension plans” – Download paper [PDF]
  • Ofer Setty (Tel Aviv University), joint with Kathrin Schlafmann (CBS) and Roine Vestman (Stockholm University): “Optimal Defined Contribution Pension Plans: One-Size Does Not Fit All” – Download paper [PDF]
  • João Brogueira de Sousa (Nova School of Business and Economics), joint with Ramon Marimon and Julián Díaz-Saavedra (Universidad de Granada): “The Austrian Backpack as alternative to the Spanish PAYG pension system”  – Download paper [PDF]

Discussants: Alexander Michaelides (Imperial College Business School) and Ellen McGrattan (University of Minnesota and Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

17:30 – 19:00

Part II: Policy debate on social security reforms in Europe, with an emphasis on Spain

Chair: Oscar Arce (Banco de España)


  • Pablo Antolín, Principal Economist and Head of the Private Pensions Unit, OECD
  • Javier Díaz-Giménez, Professor of Economics, IESE Business School
  • Esther Gordo, Director of Economic Analysis, AIReF
  • Carolin Nerlich, Senior Lead Economist, European Central Bank


Oscar Arce is the Director General of Economics, Statistics and Research at Banco de España, where he also has served as Associate Director General of Economics and Research ,Director of Monetary and Financial Studies and as Head of the Division of Macroeconomic Analysis and Forecasting. Before, he was the Director of the Research and Statistics department at the Spanish securities markets commission (CNMV), Deputy Director General at the Economic Bureau of the Spanish Prime Minister and senior economist at the Banco de España. Mr Arce holds a PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a MSc Economics from the University College London. He is an alternate member of the European Central Bank’s Governing Council, member of the ECB’s Monetary Policy Committee and member of the EU’s Economic and Financial Committee, and before he was involved in the work of several international bodies, including the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).

Carolin Nerlich is Senior Lead Economist in the European Central Bank’s Fiscal Policies Division and secretary of the ESCB Working Group on Public Finance. Prior to this she held various positions within the bank. Previous to the European Central Bank she worked at the Deutsche Bundesbank and joined Deutsche Bank Research. She holds a PhD in Economics from University of Cologne and a Master in Economics from University of Kiel. Her research interests include fiscal policy, demographics, climate change and international macroeconomics.

Ellen McGrattan is a consultant at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, a professor of economics at the University of Minnesota, and director of the Heller-Hurwicz Economics Institute. She is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory, a member of the Bureau of Economic Analysis Advisory Committee, a member of the Minnesota Population Center Advisory Board, and President-elect of the Midwest Economics Association. Ellen received her B.S. in economics and mathematics from Boston College and her Ph.D. from Stanford University. Prior to coming to Minnesota she taught at Duke University. She has also taught short courses at European University Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Stockholm School of Economics, UCLA, International Monetary Fund, Arizona State University, and Universidad do Minho. Ellen’s research is concerned with the aggregate effects of monetary and fiscal policy—in particular, the effects on GDP, investment, the allocation of hours, the stock market, and international capital flows. Her recent work reexamines some business cycle puzzles in macroeconomics, considering the fact that some investments are unmeasured. Along with colleague Ed Prescott, she has also been analyzing policy reforms related to financing retirement in economies with aging populations.

Alexander Michaelides is a Professor of Finance at Imperial College Business School and Head of the Department of Finance. His research interests include household finance and topics in the intersection of macroeconomics and finance. Alex was previously a lecturer (2001-2006) and associate professor (2006-2010) at the Department of Economics, London School of Economics, and a professor of finance at the Department of Public and Business Administration, University of Cyprus in 2010-2014. He was a Wim Duisenberg Research Fellow at the European Central Bank (2012), and a senior researcher at the Central Bank of Cyprus (2009-2010). Between May 2013 and November 2013 he was a non-executive member of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Cyprus. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton University (1997) and a B.A. in Economics from Harvard (1993).

Pablo Antolin is Principal Economist, Head of the Private Pensions Unit and Deputy Head of the OECD Consumer Finance, Insurance, Pension Division. He manages the research and policy programme of the Working Party on Private Pensions, a body that brings together policymakers, regulators and the private sector of almost 40 countries around the world. His work covers issues related to the operation, regulation and design of funded retirement income systems. Mr. Antolín has a PhD in Economics from the University of Oxford and an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Alicante (Spain).

Ofer Setty is a Senior Lecturer of Economics at the Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv University, where he has taught since 2010. He holds a PhD in Economics from New York University. Setty published in various journals including the Journal of Finance and the Journal of the European Economic Association. His research uses rich macroeconomic models to study social insurance policies such as unemployment insurance and mandatory retirement savings plans. His papers emphasize how existing and novel policies can improve welfare by taking into account heterogeneity in individuals’ characteristics.

Esther Gordo is the Director of the Economic Analysis Division at AirEf. She has a bachelor of Economics and Business from the Complutense University of Madrid. She has developed her professional career as an economist in the Directorate for Economics and Statistics of the Banco de España, where she has specialised in analysing the situation and economic policies of the Spanish economy and the rest of the economies of EMU. For several years she represented the Bank of Spain in several groups for the forecast and analysis of the economic situation and public finances of the European Central Bank, the OECD and the European Commission.

Javier Díaz-Giménez, PhD in Economics from the University of Minnesota, is a Professor of Economics at IESE Business School. He has dedicated most of his professional life to doing research, teaching, and advising in macroeconomics. His latest academic papers explore the macroeconomic consequences of pension system reforms. Professor Díaz-Giménez has published in some of the leading professional journals in economics such as the Journal of Political Economy and the Journal of Monetary Economics, and he has co-authored two papers with Professor Edward C. Prescott (Nobel Prize in 2004). He is also the author of two macroeconomics textbooks “Macroeconomics: First Concepts” and “Macroeconomics for Nearly Everyone” and he regularly lectures his students at IESE as well as in industry meetings and other professional meetings.