Agile protection: from fragile to agile
Our Agile protection: from fragile to agile project investigates threats to the sustainability of worker protection systems, and proposes frameworks for social protection in today’s rapidly changing global and national labour markets. We are exploring the economic and social drivers behind the need for such frameworks, through employers' perspectives on providing flexible protection, and individuals' behavioural tendencies that influence their insurance purchasing decisions.
People are living and working longer. Changing employment types, the loss and creation of whole industries, and growth in the sharing economy all bring greater uncertainty to the global labour market. At the same time, workers are more likely to pause their careers for caregiving responsibilities, or further education and training.
Workers are more in need of social protection than ever before, and the public sector is unable to provide adequate, sustainable social security. This is a burden that individuals cannot shoulder alone, nor can it be delegated to a single company – someone at the start of their career today is likely to change employers several times over the course of their working life. Historically, insurers have concentrated on selling single products for specific phases in customers' lifecycles, which works well for those whose career path follows a conventional pattern. However, this fragmented approach needs reconsidering in the context of the new landscape of work and retirement.
The responsibility for workers' lifelong financial well-being must be shared between individuals and institutions that can provide them with social security: governments, employers, insurance companies, and other financial service providers.
Our work builds on the Zurich-Oxford Income Protection Gap project which examined the behavioural and institutional drivers of shortfalls in earned household income due to disability, illness, or the premature death of a breadwinner.
Phase 1: From life cycles to life disjunctures: Mapping lifelong protection in the 21st-Century world of work
In the initial phase, we will explore:
- How can we describe the course of an early 21st-century worker’s life cycle, and how does it compare to that of a worker in the latter half of the 20th century?
- Why has this transformation in workers’ life cycles occurred?
- What are the consequences of this transformation?
- What are large employers’ perspectives on these changes?
- What preliminary recommendations can be made to governments, employers, insurers, and households?
- How do all of these issues differ by country? How do they differ between developed and emerging countries?
During this phase we will gather evidence on the cognitive and behavioural biases of individuals in making insurance purchasing decisions, and current practices and outlook of employers in providing insurance and benefits to their workers. We will draw evidence from:
- A consumer survey to collect information on how individuals make the appropriate choice about insurance, savings and pension products
- An employer survey in multiple countries to test their priorities of employers when it comes to protecting their employees.