Grey Numbers? The influence of the Dutch elderly unions on the state pension AOW and its predecessor 1945-2009
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This is a qualitative case study of the relation between the elderly unions and the Dutch state pension AOW and its predecessor between 1945 and 2009. Through analysis of the power of the elderly unions in terms of its ability to influence the government to reform or conserve the AOW, this thesis has found that their influence has grown considerably. The elderly and the elderly unions have grown from a marginalized position in the Dutch political landscape, to a privileged position. This privileged position started in 1994 due to an election upset of their hands, which has had the effect of boosting elderly influence and making AOW reform politically risky. Before 1994 the elderly unions had little influence, even though they saw their demands for the AOW realized by political parties’ own volition. The relative incapacity to steer the government in became apparent in the 1970’s and 1980’s when the purchasing power of the AOW took a dive despite the efforts of the elderly union. This led to a change in tactics: from a positive and idealistic campaign until about 1980 to a negative and defensive campaign from then onwards. This new campaign has proven to be a more effective tactic for the elderly unions. Although the power of the elderly has grown considerably, it is still sensitive to reform efforts that split this group, brought together by only their common interest in the AOW, along its most prevalent cleavages of age and wealth.