Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Retirement system sustainability is defined as the ability of plan boards and managers to be responsible investors, active stewards, and allocators of capital to economic activities with desirable social and environmental outcomes. In this paper, we examine the policy frameworks and important structural variables pertinent to private retirement systems in Australia, the UK, and the US. By analyzing various reports, interviewing experts, and using data from the Principles of Responsible Investment as well as national pension and retirement authorities, we identify key structural challenges within national retirement systems. These include market fragmentation, principal-agent conflicts in personal pensions, and the role of service providers. Our results provide insight into how, or whether, retirement systems can facilitate desirable economic, social, and environmental outcomes.


Retirement System, Sustainability, ESG, Sustainable Finance, Financial Regulation

JEL Code

G18, G23, Q01

Working Paper Number


Copyright/Permission Statement

The views expressed in this paper are the authors’ only and do not necessarily represent those of the PRI. All findings, interpretations, and conclusions of this paper represent the views of the authors and not those of the Wharton School or the Pension Research Council. © 2021 Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.


The authors are grateful for excellent assistance by Emmy Labovitch.

Included in

Economics Commons



Date Posted: 13 July 2021