Lies, damn lies and statistics …

The usual answer is to save more and/or work longer. Reforming state pensions is another popular remedy, particularly in continental Europe.

But another possible strategy could start at the other end of the age spectrum, by increasing investment in pre-school childcare and education.

This could have a number of potential benefits.

First, by allowing more mothers with young children to work if they wished to, such a policy could offset, in part, the decline in the ratio of workers to pensioners that is projected over the next 30-40 years.

Second, by reducing the need for mothers to take prolonged career breaks, they would have more chance of building up decent pensions for themselves.

And, finally, there is plenty of research suggesting that the pre-school years are critical for cognitive and non-cognitive skills development, which in turn will be crucial if tomorrow’s workers are to be productive.

Of course, investing more in the under-fives will cost money, some of which would need to come from taxpayers if childcare is to be made affordable for all. But it might just pay off in the long run.

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