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Director’s Message

John Piggott CEPAR Director UNSW economist

Image: John Piggott AO

Author: John Piggott AO, CEPAR Director, Scientia Professor of Economics, UNSW Business School

The International Pension Research Association (IPRA), the first of its kind globally, was established by the three major research centres CEPAR, Netspar, and the Wharton School’s Pension Research Council, along with support from Willis Towers Watson, the OECD and the International Organisation of Pension Supervisors (IOPS), in 2019. Its purpose is to provide an accessible platform for pension researchers globally. Many researchers working in small or less developed countries have little access to a strong pensions-based research network, and IPRA provides this.

The organisation runs webinars, PhD fora, and also shares in conferences around the world, led by CEPAR Co-Deputy Director Professor Hazel Bateman who is the inaugural IPRA President. But the capstone conference takes place in June each year in Paris, at the OECD. Here, international speakers are carefully chosen to explain up-to-date research on pension related issues, with topics selected for their current relevance.

After two years of online conference delivery, last month saw a return to live delivery, with all speakers present in person. It was a joyous occasion. The conference opened with a retrospective look at the development of pension policy as a plank in the World Bank’s frame of policy advice on social protection. The World Bank book, ‘Averting the Old Age Crisis’, which brought the question of pension reform under demographic change into clear focus for policymakers, was being co-written 30 years ago by the lead speaker Robert Palacios, who still works on pensions at the Bank and is a CEPAR Advisory Board member. This was followed by a prospective look at the next 30 years of pension reform. Other topics included the pension impacts of the pandemic, pension coverage, and pension risks.

More than 150 people participated live and online in the conference, from over 30 countries. Video recordings of all sessions and presentation slides are available online here.

The conference atmosphere made clear that there is a strong appetite for this kind of event, and for the research which underpins its success. The hope is that IPRA can become a fully self-funded organisation over the next several years, so that this access to high quality research and new ideas can continue.

The remaining IPRA webinars for 2022 include a webinar on Ageing Asia, planned for September, and a webinar in October presented by Professor Susan Thorp who is a CEPAR Associate Investigator at the University of Sydney Business School. In addition, IPRA is sponsoring the online session of the upcoming 30th Colloquium on Pensions and Retirement Research which will be held on 1 December 2022. The Colloquium Committee is currently calling for expressions of interest to be included on the Colloquium program as well as in the IRPA sponsored online session. If you are interested, please view the Call for Papers and submission details here.

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