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  • Text: Clemens van Diek
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Netspar research contributes to new pensions solutions

The value of scientific research is recognized within the public debate. Research is expected to help solve all sorts of social issues. Netspar’s research is concerned with the many questions surrounding pensions, retirement and population aging. Ever since its foundation twelve years ago, Netspar has striven to make a real impact as it develops and shares knowledge to support the pensions sector, helping to build an effective network.

Netspar’s mission is to promote a well-informed debate about pensions and help to improve the options for a financially secure retirement. Knowledge-sharing targets a broad network of policy makers and pension fund managers, with research results disseminated at events and in professional papers, advisories, lectures, training courses, media interviews, newsletters and the Netspar website.

A resilient society

By creating visible impact, Netspar “makes an important contribution to several of our university’s objectives,” states rector Emile Aarts. “Income, both today and in the future, is a topic that affects everyone and is particularly relevant to the resilient society that our university is helping to create. Netspar’s approach, marked by close cooperation with the pensions sector, is an excellent example of the triple helix construction and is very appropriate to the European Horizon 2020 agenda. Moreover, Netspar’s executive education does much to promote life-long learning, which we believe can only increase in importance.”

Partners, networks and connections

Netspar is a network organization made up of various partners from the field of academic research, government and the pensions sector. In addition to their financial support, the private sector partners play an active part in research and knowledge-sharing activities. They are able to participate in the Netspar TIAS Academy for Pensions Innovation. Netspar’s partners include the most prominent names in the sector: Achmea, Aegon, AFM, Apg, Asr, Cardano, DNB, NN, Ortec, PGGM, Robeco, SVB, Stichting van de Arbeid, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and nine national universities: Erasmus Rotterdam, Maastricht, Groningen, Nijmegen, Tilburg, Leiden, Utrecht, University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

“The ability to apply insights to current issues”

Klaas Knot, President De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB)

An ‘honest broker’ in the pension debate

Knot: “Netspar can play an important role as an ‘honest broker’ in the pension debate. There are so many players in the field, all with their own opinions and interests. Netspar can bring some order to the discussion, helping to distinguish between sound arguments and those based on vested interests. The role of honest broker is particularly important in this debate, but Netspar is also responsible for extremely sound policy research. Its insights into intergenerational risk-sharing and the interrelationship between pensions, healthcare and housing do much to support policymaking. The added value of Netspar is its ability to apply those insights to current issues. We may soon have to adopt a new pensions system and that will raise many issues. Access to the scientific research will prove invaluable.”

“Clear added value for our customers”

Bianca Tetteroo, RvB Achmea

A debate based on facts

Tetteroo: “The pension debate could not be more topical. One important question is how to achieve greater personalization of pension plans. It is extremely important that this debate is based on facts, and this is where Netspar offers tangible added value. It is a splendid knowledge network which brings together diverse stakeholders. Being able to take part in the network and Netspar’s research supports our employees’ professional development. As an organization, Achmea can draw on the various perspectives that staff derive from their participation to support product development. That has clear added value for our customers.”

“The strength of Netspar: reveal common ground on which to base an ongoing dialogue.”

Theo Kocken, CEO Cardano/professor Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Essential contribution to society

Kocken: “You could spend a quarter of your life in retirement. Yet many people devote only 1% of their time to pension planning. Netspar is making a valuable contribution to reforming the pension system. It must continue to do so by developing and sharing knowledge to ensure that everyone is familiar with the facts. It must analyze the hypotheses, objectives and criteria of the various players within the pension debate to reveal common ground on which to base an ongoing dialogue. This is the strength of Netspar.”


Netspar’s activities have given rise to a number of practical valorization projects. Recent examples include:

  • Contributions to the discussion about the reform of the pensions system, intergenerational risk-sharing and the abolition of the ‘average’ system.
  • Expert reports to support the preparation of new legislation, requested by parliament and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW).
  • Publications further to the government’s memorandum on the future of the pensions system.
  • Papers on pension-related topics to support the formation of a new government coalition.
  • Elaboration of proposals for a system of individual pension accounts with risk-sharing, as put forward by the Social and Economic Council (SER).
  • Alignment with the National Research Agenda.
  • New project groups to consider various specific pension-related themes.
  • Innovative research examining continued investment beyond retirement age, the options architecture, and pension awareness among the younger generation.
  • Debates examining the choice of pension system (December 2016), pension-related issues further to the formation of a government coalition (January 2017) and an election debate on long-term income security (March 2017).


Netspar stands for Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement. The institute strives to promote a better understanding of the economic and social effects of population aging and retirement arrangements in the Netherlands and Europe. www.netspar.nl

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