Accumulated pension rights are the largest single personal asset in advanced countries. They earned that status by forming a bridge between life stages of individuals’ lives. Where life stages involve geographical mobility, the portability of pension rights is very important. This paper surveys conceptual issues linking migration, the logic of pension systems and the practice of international transfer of pension rights. The Greek experience, past, present and future is seen as a shifting equilibrium between the characteristics of migration and the features of the pension system. The past was characterized by bilateral agreements governing public pensions of (a) returning diasporas (Egypt), (b) circular gastarbeiter migration (e.g. Germany), or (c) life-cycle migration (US). In the present, pensions shift away from the state, with EU coordination to aid the movement of labour. A key question is how far Greek pension reforms since 2010 allow it to participate in international tendencies. How the future will evolve will depend on the interplay between changing migration and pension systems. New challenges will involve reciprocity for non-EU migrants, intra-EU migration of pensioners, and the adaptation to the future of work. The paper will conclude by discussing how changes in the portability of pension rights can aid links between Greece and its evolving new diaspora.
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