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Pension Issues around the World


- Archives 2006 -


Also see our sections on Social Pensions, Trade Unions and Pensions
and US Pension Issues

Articles in Arabic | Chinese | French | Russian | Spanish




Uganda: NSSF to Become Pension Fund (December 5, 2006)
By transforming the National Social Security Fund into a Pension fund, the government is about to create a contributory pension system. The contributions will no longer be voluntary; they’ll become compulsory for everyone so that every retired worker can benefit from a monthly income. Dr. Ezra Suruma, who has urged this change, is promoting it as a plan to eradicate poverty. He considers this social development program as a way to build up the financial institutions in Uganda.


Liberia: Government Owes Arrears, Pension Only (November 28, 2006)
Veterans from the Armed Forces of Liberia have protested to claim their pensions in arrears. Responding to those complaints, the government revealed that it is in debt. The army, (including the National Police and the Special Security Service) has not received their pensions and salaries for a while. The Defense Secretary has submitted a proposal to the Finance Secretary to provide a budget to pay those pensions that are in arrears. However; the question about the salaries was left in abeyance. 

Mauritania: 50 Percent Rise in Salary (November 27, 2006)

(Article in French)
Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, head of the Mauritanian State since 2005, announced a 20% rise in pensions; meanwhile, civil servant salaries will increase. In January 2007 retirees will receive another advantage; they will benefit from the National Insurance Fund against Illness.


Kenya: Pension Laws to Be Reviewed, Says Minister (November 13, 2006)
The Kenyan pension law dates from the British occupation in 1902; it has not been changed since it was introduced in the Constitution after independence, in the 1960’s. The Public Service Secretary, Mr Moses Akaranga, met an association of retirees to understand their complaints with the current system. Having heard their ideas, he pledged to introduce legislation that would reduce bureaucratic processes that now delay retirees from accessing their benefits after leaving the workforce.

Swaziland: Parliamentarians Go on 'Strike' (November 9, 2006)
Last month Global Action on Aging informed you about the situation in Swaziland: the  government failed to pay grants to the elderly, blaming budgetary constraints. To protest against the Cabinet’s inability to get grants paid to the elderly, Swaziland’s parliamentarians went out an unprecedented strike. Older persons’ utilitarian value is very important in Swaziland. Some 33% of adults in Swaziland are affected by HIV AIDS.  UNICEF predicts that by 2010 Swaziland will have over 120,000 orphans.  Who is currently taking care of HIV AIDS orphans?  Who will take care of them in the future?  Surely this is reason enough (even if human rights mandates are ignored) to assure the lengthy survival of older persons in Swaziland.

Namibia: AIDS Drains Pension Money (November 8, 2006)
A recent Namibian study on HIV/AIDS revealed to what extent HIV/AIDS is using up pension money of older people who bear the burden of this pandemic. Indeed, older people are using their pension payout as an AIDS grant, the study reports. It is time for the government to give far more attention to the elderly, who are the principal caregivers of orphans, and take them into account when formulating policy.

Benin: Deputies Gathered to Help One of Their Former Colleague’s Family in Financial Difficulties after His Death (October 17, 2006).
(Article in French)
The case of J. Sacca Kina, a deputy who died during his mandate, will accelerate the implementation of a pension for those state agents. While working for the State, Benin deputies aren’t regarded as civil servants. After they die their family cannot claim any assistance. 


Ghana: Asenso-Okyere: “Increase Retirement Age” (September 29, 2006)
Professor Asenso-Okyere, vice chancellor of the University of Ghana, proposed solutions for accelerating development in Ghana and to enable the country to take its place in a global society. He suggests reducing the vulnerability of older people and increasing their living standards. The government should create possibilities for retirees to work (at least in a part-time job) if they need it to remain active and provide for their family.

Nigeria: Pension System Is Undergoing Fundamental Reform (June 14, 2006)
The Government of Nigeria is pursuing major reforms in its banking, pension and insurance systems. The old pension system, based on a non-contributory, pay-as-you-go defined - benefit scheme, was bankrupt. The new pension framework requires mandatory payments into a pension fund. As a result, the Government will provide a minimum monthly pension upon 20-years of contribution payments.

South Africa: 'A Happy Outcome' (May 23, 2006)
South African police evicted approximately 900 former mine workers from the city hall into freezing cold. These senior members of the union had demonstrated for almost 2 weeks demanding unpaid compensation and benefits the government promised to give. At the time of eviction, police officers were heavily armed with batons and shotguns. Some officers used pepper spray on those who resisted or rebelled. To the police, this was a satisfying outcome because there was no major confrontation. To the pensioners, their struggle continues. 

South Africa: Seniors Face Radical Changes in Pension Planning (May 15, 2006)
(Article in French)
Retirement planning is undergoing dramatic change in South Africa. Longevity is increasing, savings and investment returns are low. Seniors will have to plan their retirement with greater care. Traditional approaches to retirement financing will not be sufficient. Retirees will have to invest in higher risk assets to get the financial returns they need to keep pace with inflation. 

Nigeria: Retirees and Pension Reform Act, 2004 (March 17, 2006)

In Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria’s 2004 Pension Reform Act has aimed to improve the poor condition of retirees. But according to this article, the results show very little progress after two years despite and the creation of a complex system.  This column highlights workers’ and retirees’ lack of information on the new Nigerian pension scheme, which is based on government management of savings and pension funds.   

Ivory Coast: Retirees’ Poor Life (March 1, 2006)
(Article in French)
This article details the main trends among pensioners today in Cote d’Ivoire. The low level of pensions prevents older citizens from enjoying any retirement after years of hard work. Pensioners often cannot even find decent housing for themselves. 

South Africa: Calls to Release Plans on Pension Funds Tax (February 7, 2006)

The South African Treasury is finally acting on proposals to change the taxation of retirement and pension fund savings. Many express how unfair it is to tax those retired persons who rely on these savings as their only source of income. Billy Joubert, a tax partner at Deloitte, says that talks between the government and retirement fund industry will need to continue for at least another year before any solution can be agreed upon. 

Cameroon: Where did the Pension’s 5 Billion Francs CFA Go?
(Article in French)
The August 5, 2005, privatization protocol of Cameroon Airlines, included a 5 billion francs CFA fund to support the early retirement of older employees whose jobs had been eliminated in the company’s new structure. But in the last step of the privatization process, two thirds of the early retirees are not receiving any pension. Ignored by the government (which needs the money from this privatization as soon as possible) and the company’s administrators, these retirees feel they have been cheated.  Their anger is growing.

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Americas & Caribbean

Canada: The Retirees from Quebec Will Lose $225 Millions in 2007 (December 28, 2006)
(Article in French)
The Quebec Association for Retirees working in the Public sectors (AQRP) has denounced the additional pension regimes that are only partially indexed to the increase of living costs. The purchasing power of the retirees is going down. This impoverishment will have rough economic consequences for the whole society, especially because retirees will spend less on goods and services.

Chile: Pensions and Dignity (December 26, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
It is difficult to conceive that there could be a disincentive to save money and at the same time provide 60% of the poorest people with a basic pension of 75,000 pesos. For those who are elderly, medical costs can easily surpass their monthly pension. The pension for the Armed Forces retirees causes a deficit that equals US$1.7 million in the Chilean State Treasury. The government must take civilians into consideration, as they are also citizens and are entitled to equal social protection.

Chile: A Matter of Age (December 24, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
The Marcel Commission in Chile has proposed extending the retirement age for women from 60 to 65. However, the provisional reform came up with a different solution. Women who retire at the age of 60 are eligible to receive pension they have saved with the Pension Administration Fund (AFP) until they become 65 years old. At that age, they can start receiving the basic pension (PBS) provided by the State. However, many poor women do not have savings in the AFP; therefore they are often forced to work until they become 65 so they can start receiving the PBS. Another problem: In order to be eligible for the guaranteed basic pension, women must have contributee to the AFP for 20 years and many of them have not done that due to home and caregiving responsibilities. 

Venezuela: Elderly Persons Demand INASS to Increase Pension Payment
(December 24, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
The National Institute of Social Services in Venezuela cancelled an increase of 307,000 bolívares a month and the incorporation of other elderly people onto the list of beneficiaries. Members of Friends of Elderly People declared they will protest this reversal. The pension beneficiaries are now receiving only 60 thousand bolívares a month, approximately US$140 and it is impossible to live on that amount.

Nicaragua: Social Security: Time Bomb for Ortega (December 8, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
Social Security in Nicaragua demands more than 6,000 billion córdobas from the government. However, Ortega will be facing a number of crises when his administration takes control in January. The pressing power shortage requires money. If Ortega chooses to give Social Security the money people demand, chances are there will be changes in its policy – an increase in retirement age, an increase in the money deducted from a worker’s paycheck or an increase in the number of years in the workforce before being entitled to pension, to name a few. Workers and employers are likely to put up a battle if these measures are taken. This article explores the severity of the social security crisis which will only worsen if no action is taken.

Nicaragua: An Unfortunate Proposal (December 8, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
The World Bank and the IMF are pushing Nicaragua to privatize its social security system. Nicaragua is pressed to put through these changes if it wants aid from these financial institutions. The World Bank and the IMV would also would charge a 28% commission and they do not guarantee success. If Nicaragua suffers financial losses, the World Bank and the IMF will not take any liability. 

Panama: Retirees Demand 40 Balboas and Will Close Other Routes (December 7, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
Far from appeasing the pensioners, the Government provoked them to rebel by denying their request to increase their pension and proposing instead to give loans with a reduced interest. The pensioners rejected this plan and in response, changed their demand of 30 Balboas to 40 Balboas. They also closed some public routes as part of the protest.

Colombia: The First Forum of Older Persons Will Take Place in 2007
(November 20, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
The Colombian government already channels money into various specific programs designed for elderly people, such as those for disabled people, women, and others who need appropriate housing. However, with an increase in the number of elderly people in society, there still is not enough money going into governmental programs designed for older persons. Beatriz White Correa, the Secretary of Social Well-Being, concluded that investments towards these programs are necessary, hence the establishment of the first Forum of Older Persons next year.

Venezuela: Only 20% of the Workers in El Alto Receive Benefits (November 17, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
President Víctor Malky of the Chamber of Industry and Commercial in the city of El Alto states that only 20% of industrial workers are registered with the Labor Ministry. Therefore the remaining 80% do not receive any health benefits and they do not contribute to the pension system, affording them no pension upon retirement. This problem of failure to register with the Labor Ministry reveals a severe national crisis.

Chile: Senators Request Housing Funding for Older Persons (November 12, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
Senators presented a project to President Bachelet to establish a special funding system to grant houses to older persons. The senators want a special subsidy to expand housing for this age group. The legislators argue that “we must consider the reality of the housing policy for older persons,” with the purpose of helping older persons who depend on a precarious pension system.

Dominican Republic: At Least Seven Thousand Pensioners Swindled (November 11, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
The Dominican Secretary-General of the Department of Pension and Retirement explained that the Department’s employees stole pensioners’ checks which is a customary practice. The only difference is that this trend has escalated since January. The Secretary of Finance confirms the existence of a criminal group within the Department of Pension and Retirement that uses sophisticated electronic equipment allowing them to steal millions of pesos. The criminals involved are at all levels of the hierarchy. It was only last year that the government found the former Director, Tulio Surcar, for example, guilty of being involved in this scandal. This article explores the mechanism of the theft and what the government plans to do about this problem.

Bolivia: Pension Budget Will Reach 40 Million Bolivians (November 9, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
In response to the irregularities in the pension system, the Evo Morales Aima Administration set out to improve it. Glitches in the system involved lack of data on older persons’ identity cards, inconsistency in age and income, as well as inaccuracy on rent information, among others issues explained in the article. Thanks to the government’s fixing these problems, 40 million Bolivians will receive their pension by the end of this year with increased reliability.

Argentina: Advance Payment and Christmas Gift to Pensioners (November 9, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
The government will pay the pensioners their income as well as their holiday gift before Christmas. The government divided the pensioners into two groups, one who will receive their pay between December 1 and 15. The other group will receive their pay between the 19th and the 22nd. This is the second year that the government follows this schedule. The 4.1 million pesos budget will benefit 4.3 million people.

Colombia: Danger of Lack of Saving for the Future Requires Increased Saving and Commitment Not to Spend (November 6, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
At a forum, Sergio Clavijo and Santiago García, President of Anif and Vice President of Skandia for Colombia, respectively, warn of the danger of not having savings for the future. In Colombia, 56% of citizens are at the peak of their working career. Yet, most of them do not save money and do not even think of the long-term future. Those who are earning a minimal income cannot afford to save and those who earn enough money to have savings don’t save. Instead, they spend money on unnecessary things. This invites serious financial problems in the future. Using Asian countries as a model, Clavijo and García give advice on how to help Colombians have a secure income in the future.

Chile: Women and Pension (November 3, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
By law, women are expected to retire five years before their male countrparts, yet women live longer than men. This means their pension is doubly lowered. This is a problem that President Bachelet wanted to address and resolve, despite the fact that the low pension is compensated by their husbands' pension and/or financial support provided by the children. Even though women over the age of 60 are one of the smallest groups of people living in poverty, the government has been looking for ways to increase financial security for women.
One proposal was to extend the retirement age for women, but President Bachelet rejected it. One of the possible proposals the government is discussing is to give a maternal bond, equivalent to a pension from one year's worth of minimal wage income for each live birth. The government is still contemplating an ideal solution for this problem.

Chile: Improving Retirement Income of Older Women Is One of the Main Goals (October 31, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
Women in Chile will benefit from the government’s initiatives to improve their social conditions. An increase in retirement pension, allowing the women to have the right to retire voluntarily after exceeding the retirement age, and an introduction of a maternity bond into the pension system are some of the areas the government will focus on. The article includes logistics of the planned actions and how women will benefit from the changes.

Argentina: With an Eye on Retirement: A Long-Term Benefit (October 29, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
“If a salary is enough to barely cover an employee’s subsistence, the employee may reject the offer. The less a prospective employee can save, the less likely he or she will take up the offer,” explains Héctor Gueler, a consultant whose firm is affiliated with Mercer Human Resource Consulting. This concept illuminates the changes that different firms in Argentina are experiencing. Current employees want to be able to create their own savings plan to secure their retirement income.

Argentina: My Job is to Propose a Policy for Diasporic Italians around the World (October 29, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
Signor Luigi Pallaro is the first Italian senator elected in Latin America and he is 80 years old. For the first time in history, Italians and descendents with double nationalities residing in other countries were able to elect their own representative for the Parliament in Rome. More than 110,000 Italians living in Latin America took part in this election. This is important for diasporic Italians because they want Rome to remember that they too exist and any regulation passed there will affect them. In addition to advancing cultural exchanges between Argentina and Italy, Mr. Pallaro will also bring up issues regarding medical coverage and pensions for Latin American residents with origins in Italy.

Argentina: Extended Moratorium for Retirees (October 23, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
In Argentina, elderly people who do not meet the required number of employment years for retirement are eligible for a plan that will allow them to receive pension. Argentine President Néstor Kirchner postponed the moratorium for older people to join this plan. This plan not only benefits the elderly, but also those who were forced into retirement due to unemployment after 30 years of registered employment.

Argentina: AFJP Requests a Raise in Contributions towards Retirement Fund (October 20, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
The restitution of wage contributions to the AFJP and the reduction of the cost for life insurance that covers pensions by death or disability will continue to affect the capacity to accumulate individual retirement savings. Oscar Schmidt, a vice president of Met Life International who is in charge of the Latin American region, emphasizes that the amount of money accumulated is not enough to meet people’s needs after retirement. In order to avoid this problem, Schmidt explains, contributions towards retirement funds are vital.

Argentina: Plans to Improve Retirement Plans (October 8, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
In light of Argentina ’s economic crisis in the years 2001 and 2002, different companies, with the help of consultants, came up with ideas of how to improve retirement plans. The result is that three out of ten leading companies now have an optional retirement plan in addition to a governmental pension. Consultants predict that this trend will contribute to the development of trust funds.

Colombia: Retirement for Domestic Workers (September 10, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)

In Latin America, one out of four women is in the domestic service industry. In Colombia alone, there are more than 920,000 women in that category. For families, having someone keep the house in order, ensure there is food on the table for every meal of the day, do laundry, etc. is a luxury. But what happens when domestic workers reach retirement age? There is a law that gives protection to servants that includes receiving a pension after they retire. The article lays out details of how domestic servants become eligible to receive pensions upon retirement.

 Mexico: The Mexican Government Gives Limited Support to Elders (September 4, 2006) 
(Article in Spanish)
The State Mexican Government (Edomex) plans to institute the same nutritional food pension model for elders that the Federal District is currently using. In order to be considered for this governmental aid, older persons must meet some requirements before they can receive 400 Mexican Pesos ($36) on a monthly basis. Elders can then buy products – but they must purchase them exclusively from Diconsa* stores. The beneficiaries will receive medicines like Flanax, Pepto Bismol, Alka Seltzer, alcohol, cotton and Mejorales (Aspirin). Furthermore, the elders will obtain full basic food products equal to 300 Mexican Pesos ($27), leaving them 100 Mexican Pesos ($9) to buy whatever they want. Diconsa stores, a part of the Mexican Federal Government, supply food, products, and services demanded by the people who live in isolated or marginalized areas. These products are sold at a very low cost, promoting the local market and affording social participation to contribute to the local people’s development. (www.diconsa.gob.mx/paginas)

Argentina: A Ruling that Will Increase Income for the Retired (August 16, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
President Kirchner praised the Supreme Court ruling that requires a gradual increase in the income for retired people. The President will include this increase in the budget plan for the year 2007.

Mexico: Next President Faces Tough Test Dealing with Mexico's Aging (August 12, 2006)
According to United Nations projections, the current median age of 25 in Mexico will increase to 42 by 2050. During the same time span, the proportion of older adults (65+) will jump up to 20% from 5% today. If the country does not take urgent actions on pension reform, the majority of older adults will be without any secure financial support in later years. Two candidates for the presidential election have divergent views on this issue. One emphasizes the importance of universal social pension for low-income older adults. Yet, the other candidate emphasizes the strengthening of the economy in general, thus strengthening the existing pension system.

Chile: How Can I Calculate My Pension? (July 21, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
Do you know how to calculate your pension? How to maximize resources to help with your retirement saving? Reader Mario Ramírez expressed his desire to retire after 40 years of working, but is not clear how to calculate his retirement income. El Sur wrote this article in response to Mr. Ramírez’s question. Although it specifically discusses on Chile, other countries probably have similar systems on how the government calculates a retiree’s income. If you find yourself on the same page as Mr. Ramírez, this article will help you.

Chile: Bachelet Rejects Increasing Women's Retirement Age (July 6, 2006)

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet rejected a proposal made by an advisory council to raise women’s retirement age to 65. All political sectors as well as the social and women's organizations criticized increasing the age at which women would be eligible to receive their full pension. In addition, the advisory council made 70 other proposals for modifying the current pension system in 11 areas, including coverage, equity between the sexes, investment of the pension funds, education and financial discipline, among other things.

Jamaica: Living on a Penny Pension (June 18, 2006)

In March, the government increased pension benefits for people who have contributed to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) from $900 to $1,500 per fortnight. However, despite this increase, most Jamaican pensioners who depend on their pension as their sole income complain about a poverty. Many pensioners who have to pay a substantial portion for care services can hardly afford food and medication.

Guatemala: Elderly Guatemalans on Hunger Strike over Pensions (June 6, 2006) 
“We would rather die here than on our knees, waiting to starve to death in our houses” were the words from an angry older Guatemalan person participating in a hunger strike. In Guatemalan history, this is the first time older people have resorted to this measure. They aim at pressuring the government to make payments for the unpaid pension that the Congress once promised to give for people over 65 years old who have no other means of income. 

Bolivia: President Announces Prompt Reforms in the Pension System (May 24, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
The Bolivian president announced that his government would reform the pension system. He has called for public debate among various organizations, unions and the congress to come up with ideas for solving the current problems of the system. Among the issues that the government will address is the possibility of decreasing the minimum age of retirement from 65 to 55 for men and from 60 to 50 for women. This is a startlingly different approach to that being advocated in current European pension debate: to increase the age of retirement to 68 years. 

Brazil: Older Spanish Immigrants living in Poverty (May 23, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
During and after the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) a great number of Spaniards immigrated to Latin America. Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil were preferred destinations for the newcomers, some seeking asylum. Now these immigrants have aged and many of them face the harshness of growing old in impoverished countries. Although the Spanish government offers special pensions to older immigrants, this benefit is only available to those who can prove their Spanish nationality. The article narrates the story of many older Spanish immigrants living in Brazil, who unfortunately have not been able to claim their pensions.

Argentina: Fiscal Surplus to Raise Pensions (May 15, 2006)
(Article in French) 
Eighth pensions rise for inflation-plagued retirees! Inflation is hitting more and more Argentinean pensioners. The government of Nestor Kirchner announced that it will raise state pensions for the 8th time in June. The authorities claim that the rise will outpace inflation. But critics say public spending should be curbed to slow price spiraling.

Paraguay: Less Than 25% of Older Persons Have Pensions (May 5, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
The majority of older Paraguayans live in unstable conditions. Lacking access to pensions and basic social protection, a significant number of older persons continue to work to an advanced age. Sixty per cent of older adults labor in agriculture. In urban areas many older persons are forced to improvise ways to get money for food and other needs. For instance, Don Egidio, 72 years old, sells balloons near a park. “Sometimes I cannot buy lunch, and I have to look after people’s cars or beg in the streets.”

Chile: Government Starts the Payment of Readjusted Pensions and Winter Bonuses (May 3, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
Last week, the Chilean government started to pay readjusted pensions and winter bonuses. President Bachelet’s first measure when she took power in March was to increase the minimum pension by 10%. Over one million poor, older persons will benefit from a bigger pension check. Winter bonuses, designated for those most in need, will help older adults prepare for the upcoming bitter winter in the Southern Cone. 

Uruguay: Shaping the Future of Social Protection: Access, Financing and Solidarity (April 2006) 
(Report also available in Spanish)
This in-depth report highlights the outcome the of recent UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC) conference in Uruguay. Experts in this UN commission focus on Latin America’s current pension and health systems and their impact on impoverished older persons. The document offers analyses of social protection programs in the region, providing useful information on how Latin American nations are addressing the needs of their aging population. The authors point out the financial challenges governments face in implementing social programs and give recommendations for possible solutions. 

Peru: Older Persons Ask For Government’s Attention (March 23,2006)

(Article in Spanish)
Over 500 older adults filled the streets of Arequipa demanding attention and protection from the government. The protestors live in extreme poverty, pay local taxes, and lack pensions, health care and social security. Juan Pablo Vizcardo, 68, summarized the group’s plight by saying, “We do not have pensions, medical attention, or food. We’re forgotten and that’s not fair. We ask for support.” 

Jamaica: Senate Passes Controversial Pension Bill (March 18, 2006)
The Jamaican Senate has approved pension legislation (Pensions Act) that will amend and impose regulations on the current pension system. The Financial Services Commission (FSC)—an independent financial service regulator—will now supervise the funds and schemes, a measure that has raised concern among the opposition because the FSC will get government funds to serve its mission. However, the government declared that the Pensions Act will only improve the way the system operates. The effectiveness and impartiality of FSC regulating pensions is yet to be determined. 


Ecuador: The Crisis in the Pension System Grows (March 13, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
With a deficit of 3,700 million dollars, the national pension system in Ecuador stands on the verge of a major crisis. The system faces many problems, including a lack of financial support from the government - which owes the Social Security fund 2,300 million dollars - and an unexpectedly increasing number of pensioners. Currently, for every four active workers there is one retiree. Longer life expectancy in the country will only aggravate the failing pension system. “A reform to the system is absolutely necessary, the pension scheme is now unsustainable,” remarked Carmen Corral from the Social Security office of Ecuador’s banking sector. 

Canada: Singer Company’s Retirees Win in an Endless Judgment Procedure (March 9, 2006)
(Article in French)
600 Singer retirees, who started legal procedures ten years ago, won a judicial victory and $8.2 million. While the legal battle succeeded, many of the beneficiaries have already passed away. The $8.2 million victory accounts for the pension supplement that the State pension fund paid to the company rather than to pensioners themselves between 1947 and 1986.

Bolivia: Relationship between Salary, Rent, and Pension (March 4, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
Writer Juan David Alarcón Morales explores the three way relationship of the social economy in Bolivia. He does this by describing the judicial-political history of modern society related to labor issues. He also lays out the various 20th century laws intended to  improve workforce conditions as well as employees’ rights to appropriate working environments and decent wages. This historical account serves as a foundation for readers to understand his view on what should be the current government’s obligations to labor and management.


Barbados: Occupational Pension Benefits Bill (February 21, 2006)
The Labor and Civil Service Minister Rawle Eastmond states that it is necessary for the National Insurance Scheme to be revised because of the growing numbers in the aging population. The government needs to ensure the future of the scheme. On the contrary, Dr. David Estwick requested an increase of old age pension. He questions why the government will pay a minimum of $1500 for an alternative elderly care system when the maintained pensions amounts to slightly over $300 per week. 

Bolivia: Change in Pension System (February 4, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
The new vice-minister of pensions, José Luis Peréz, announced that the government will make changes to the national pension system that was privatized a few years ago. The modifications will follow an in-depth study of the current state of the privatized pension scheme. Pérez said that the review committee will address the major problems of the system as well as highlight its positive aspects. The vice-minister praised the individual accounts scheme as an effective measure to prevent corruption. Though the government has stated that it will increase regulation of the financial companies that manage the pension funds, the vice-minister also wishes to decrease the number of years (35) that are required to obtain a pension. Overall, the modifications aim to build an efficient, sustainable and transparent pension system.

Bolivia: Adjustments to the Pension System Will Generate Insecurity and Cost (February 3, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
Bolivia’s ruling party, Movement towards Socialism (MAS), wants to adjust the pension system. At present, the transitional commissions responsible for restructuring pensions want to merge the National System of Distribution (Sensair) with other pension-related organizations specified in the article. This may result in increased insecurity among workers who already are contributing to the Pension Funding Administration (AFP’s), an unpopular nine-year-old capitalist-style pension system that many retirees already want to shut down. Workers fear possible corruption, as has existed in the past, and worry about the government’s ability to secure their retirement financial plans.

Mexico: Older Women in Mexico City Immersed in Poverty (January 16, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
In Mexico City the majority of older people are women. Females comprise 63% of the 70 year olds and 70% of the 80 years olds. The Agency for Health and Care for the Elderly director reports that older women are deeply affected by poverty, especially because few have access to pensions. Only 29% of women receive a pension and these funds— mostly deriving from widow's pensions— do not truly sustain these women. The local government has created a food fund for elder persons that will surely benefit older women in need. 


Chile: Chile's Candidates Agree to Agree on Pension Woes (January 10, 2006)
Michelle Bachelet (Socialist) and Sebastian Piñera (Conservative) have agreed that Chile’s social pension system needs major reforms. Created in 1981, the privatized system became a role model for pensions’ schemes throughout Latin America. Today, there is little credibility on the success of this system, as only half of elder Chileans have access to pensions and many receive barely enough to survive. Both Bachelet and Piñera’s campaigns advocate for structural changes in the pension system; the former wants to increase and expand the minimum pension, whereas Piñera is promising a guaranteed bonus to housewives.

Argentina: Veterans Confirm that the Province Does Not Pay Pensions as Obligated (January 9, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
The center for the Falkland veterans confirms that the Province is not paying the appropriate money which the social pension law dictates. IPS, the governmental organization responsible for paying the pensions to the veterans, pays $417. CECIM indicates that IPS is unaware that the Argentine Supreme Court of Justice has ruled that compensation due to residential instability must be considered part of the pay. The Court ruled that the income should be $1,200. Therefore different veteran organizations are taking actions to make the Provincial government pay them the correct pension amount.

Mexico: Mexico to Compensate for Long-Forgotten Fund (January 3, 2006)

A few days before Christmas a group of elder Mexican men from San Diego crossed the US-Mexico border, heading south to Mexicali. Former “braceros” (guest-workers), these older men claimed a $4, 000 compensation from the Mexican government. During the labor shortage of World War II, a number of Mexicans came to the US in a guest-work program called Braceros. The Mexican and US government without notifying the workers took 10% of their salaries for a pension fund that never reached its beneficiaries. More than 60 years later and after heavy pressure from grass-root organizations, Mexico made available $30 million to compensate the braceros. Over 100,000 braceros have filed claims for these pensions.

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Asia Pacific

Indonesia: Forward Thinking and Family Support: Explaining Retirement and Old Age Labor Supply in Indonesia (December 2006)
This report establishes a structural dynamic model of retirement for developing countries. Douglas McKee focuses on Indonesia for several reasons. It is the fourth most populous country and, like most developing countries, Indonesia faces huge demographic and socioeconomic changes. In this context, there is a lot of debate about the needs of an aging population and how best to change Indonesia’s pension system. This model takes into account health, family support, multi-sector labor market, and government pensions.

China: China Must Shore Up Pension for Ageing Society (December 12, 2006)
With the inevitable and rapid growth of its aging population, China has to find assets to finance a pension system. The government has just presented a “white paper” outlining programs for senior citizens. At the local level, the government urges increasing their budget devoted to social security, especially in the rural areas where no pension funds or other social protection covers older people. It also suggests using lottery proceeds and eventually attracting foreign investors in the pension system (see the white paper entitled: The Development of China's Undertakings for the Aged  ).

China: Audit Finds Massive Fraud in China’s Social Security Fund (November 24, 2006)
China’s National Audit Office cracked down on the latest government fraud related to the six-year-old social security fund. $900 million was misappropriated from the fund. Two months ago, a government investigation found a Shanghai party secretary guilty of misusing social security funds in Shanghai, which unleashed a chain reaction with the arrest of government and business leaders accused of stealing government funds or using them for bribery. The corruption involved more than $95 billion worth of government funds. This situation is affecting more than 220 million retired Chinese.

India: FM Asks for Reforms in Pension System (November 20, 2006)
As Finance Ministers from the G-20 countries gathered, many spoke about pension “reforms” as the next challenge for every country, whether they are developed or not. The Indian Finance Minister called for the implementation of defined-contributions plans, arguing that the “pay as you go” system is unsustainable. However, he faces tough opposition at home from the Left Parties in India who generally embrace a government-sponsored social protection model.

Wuxi, China: Elderly Not Covered Under Social Security Insurance Will Receive Elderly Pension (November 17, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
The Wuxi government announced that starting from January 1, 2007, eligible elderly will receive 150 yuan ($19.00) elderly pension every month. Eligible elderly must fulfill the following 5 requirements: a)They must be citizens of Wuxi b) They must have obtained the Wuxi citizenship before April 30, 2003 b) They must have lived in Wuxi for more than 30 years c) They must be at least 60 years of age and d) They are not currently covered under any social security scheme.  

China, Nanjing: The Average Elderly Pension Has Increased 13 Times (November 3, 2006)
(Article in Chinese) 
The average elderly pension in Nanjing was 81 yuan ($10.30) twenty years ago. It has now become 1109 yuan ($141.00), the highest in the province.

Japan: Government to Give Yearly Payment Info on Pensions (October 26, 2006)
The government plans to inform workers, beginning at 20 years old, about the pensions they may expect to earn. Japanese workers will receive a letter from the pension fund that indicates: “the total amount of premiums paid in the past,” “the pension amount that each member is expected to receive in the future,” and “when they will start receiving their pension.” The Social Insurance Agency has already calculated the amount of benefits for the over-50s, which will help them to plan their life upon retirement.

China: The PRC Government’s Plan to Replenish the National Security Fund by Allocating Shares of Some State-Owned Enterprises (October 25, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
The PRC government is considering allocating some state-owned shares of listed companies to the national social security fund, so that state-owned enterprises can be under greater market supervision. The plan is that when state-owned enterprises issue shares, 10% of the shares are allocated to the social security fund. The social security fund needs to be strengthened to deal with the aging population in China.

: Guangdong Decreases the Elderly Pension Gap Between Regions (October 25, 2006)

(Article in Chinese)
Presently, the average monthly income of workers is used as the base number for the basic elderly pensions in each of the various regions in Guangdong province, creating a large gap of elderly pensions between different regions. The provincial government has just issued Document No. 96, which states that the base number of elderly pensions will be changed to the average monthly income of the workers within the whole province in the previous year.  This will increase the elderly pension level of some underdeveloped regions. There is a five-year transition period for this policy, from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2011.

China: Top Statistician in China Scandal (October 19, 2006)

A financial scandal has hit the pension fund in Shanghai. Several officials such as the Head of China’s National Bureau of Statistics are suspected of “severe violation of discipline.” The Beijing government announced a general investigation in the country. As far as Shanghai is concerned, the authorities already know that the disappeared $1.25 billion was used to invest illegally in real estate and other ventures. 

China: China Braced for Pensioner Boom (October 16, 2006)
Because the pension system doesn’t compensate all older workers, the Shanghai government designates part of its budget to daily assistance for the elderly. Average life expectancy is equivalent to that of many developed countries. Policymakers hope that economic growth will help China care for its older people, estimated to be 30% of its population by 2025.

China: Management of Elderly Pension Will Be Centralized (September 27, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
China is going to centralize its pension funds after Shanghai's Communist Party leader was sacked for diverting the social security fund of his city. The Ministry of Labor and Social Security may issue rules early next year to take away local governments’ control of provincial pensions. 

China: Average Elderly Pension Will Exceed 1000 Yuan for the First Time
(September 27, 2006)

(Article in Chinese)
The basic elderly pension in Nanjing will be increased by 145 yuan ($18.36). The average elderly pension in Nanjing is now 964 yuan ($122.00), after the increase, the elderly pension of retirees in Nanjing will reach 1109 yuan ($140.45).

China: China to Build Social Security System Commensurate with Reality (September 15, 2006)
China’s Minister of Labor and Social Security, Tian Chengping, has made headway in trying to address the payment pressures of the aging population. Chengping recently announced that the Chinese government has made “social security for more people” the primary goal and that coverage will be extended to workers in the non-state economic sector, workers in flexible forms of employment and migrant workers. So far, the central government has accumulated over 200 billion yuan (about 25 billion dollars) in their national social security fund as a strategic reserve.  

India: India Farmers' Joy at Pension Plan (September 13, 2006)
While only 12% of the Indian working population receives a pension, one of the biggest national investment companies has offered a chance to dairy farmers in the Bihar to get one. Economics influences the decision since the farmers belong to a powerful cooperative in which the company is investing. The farmers must contribute 100 rupees a month; then at the age of 58 they will receive a pension in return. 

China: Elderly Pension in Jiande Has Been Increased (September 13, 2006)

Jiande authorities increased basic elderly pensions by 67 yuan ($8.43) per month. In addition there is a 1.5 yuan ($0.18) increase for every monthly elder insurance payment. Those who attain a professional position in advance of the stated requirement, their elderly pension will increase by 60 yuan ($7.55) per month. Other professionals will receive 50 yuan ($6.29) more per month. For older men above 70 or women of 65 but below 80 years old, the elderly pension will increase by 1 yuan ($0.12) for every elderly insurance payment completed. For those 80 years or above, the elderly pension will increase by 2 yuan ($0.25) for every elderly insurance payment completed. 

China: Zhejiang Implements New Elderly Pension Policies (September 6, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
The Zhejiang government has implemented new elderly pension policies. First, individual elderly pension accounts can be transferred from job to job. Second, the more you pay while working, the more elderly pension you will receive after retirement. Third, individuals, instead of only enterprise workers, can also buy elderly insurance.  

Asia: Asia Facing its Fate (September 2006)
(Report in French)
Asia is becoming more similar to Western countries. The traditional family, based on wives’ care-giving support of parents and in-laws, is disappearing year by year. Asian countries will have to prepare for their aging populations and for financing their pension systems. Some countries rely on a strong economic growth thanks to their plentiful workforce so as to “become rich before becoming old.” Authorities, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says, must implement a budget stabilization policy to be able to support future income support of older persons. Eventually, according to this International Monetary Fund report, two strategic choices arise for the Asian countries that are ending their demographic transition: increasing the birth rate and the retirement age.

China: Guangzhou Puts 70 Million Yuan as Elderly Insurance Reserve Fund
(August 28, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
The rate of increase of transitional elderly insurance has to increase so that the living standard of retirees can catch up with the economic growth of the society. Right now Guangzhou has to pay basic insurance to 400-500 thousand retirees. There is pressure to pay the full amount of insurance on time. As a result, Guangzhou government is going to increase its contribution to the insurance reserve fund from 50 million yuan to 70 million annually, in order to deal with the payment pressure among the aging population in Guangzhou.

China: An Increase in Elderly Insurance of Enterprise Retirees (August 24, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
Starting from July 1, the elderly pension of retirees in Ningbo went up; the average increase per person per month accounts for 100 yuan (approximately US $12). The increased elderly pension will be released to retirees before the end of September. The adjustment of the elderly pension is divided into two parts. In the first part, the elderly pension of retirees is increased by 62 yuan (US $7) per person per month. In the second part, the monthly adjustment depends how long retirees have collected payments. Pensioners will receive an additional 1.5 yuan (US $0.18 cents) for each year they have received pension payments.

China: Basic Elderly Pension of Retired Personnel in Beijing Shows an Increase of 120 Yuan per Month (August 17, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
Starting July 1, 2006, the basic elderly pension of retired personnel in Beijing was adjusted with a 120 yuan (approximately US $15) increase in the aggregate average income. Those retirees who have paid into the program for more than 10 years will receive an additional 3.5 yuan (US $ 0.44), and those who have paid in for less than 10 years will receive additional 35 yuan (US $4.40) each month. Landless farmers who have paid in for less than 15 years will receive an additional 52.5 yuan (US $6.60) each month. Moreover, if the current pension for a high ranking technician, military officer or business owner is still below 1215 yuan (US $152), the government will bring the pension up to the $152 level. 

China: 6% Annual Increase of Retirees is Causing Social and Economic Pressure (August 11, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
According to statistics released by the Ministry of Health, health resources consumed by elderly people are 1.9 times higher than the average population. In 2004, China’s basic health insurance expenditures increased 31.6% compared to the previous year. An aging population was the sole cause. The number of retirees in China expanded by 6%, and the deficit in the insurance fund increased. To deal with the increasing aging population predicted by specialists to peak in the year 2030, China needs to set aside 25 billion yuan (approximately US $300 million) as strategic reserve funds.

China: The Minimum Basic Elderly Pension in Hangzhou is Increased to 754.90 Yuan in 2006 (August 9, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
The minimum basic elderly pension in Hangzhou (excluding Xiaoshan, Yuhang) has been increased to 754.90 yuan (about $95) in 2006. This is 13.7 yuan ($1.70) increase from 2005. In 2006, retirees whose pension amount is lower than this level will receive compensation.

China: Beijing: Funeral Expense Fund Included in Elderly Pension (August 8, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
When Beijing workers die, their families receive 800 yuan (approximately $100) from the funeral expense fund. This year, the municipal labor and social security department plans to put funeral expenses under the authority of the old age pension system. In the past, workers’ units denied funeral expenses to families of deceased workers who got into disputes with the unit. Now the funeral expense fund is included in the elderly pension. It will guarantee payment of funeral expenses and more than 1.5 million workers will be benefit from the policy. 

China: Different Retirement Pensions for State-Owned Enterprises and Public Institutions Retirees (July 28, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
It is a common to see a big difference between the retirement pension of enterprise retirees and that of public institutions’ retirees. Since 1993, state-owned enterprises and public institutions have adopted different wage rate systems; state-owned enterprises adopted a basic uniform socialized pension system, whereas public institutions adopted an independent civil servants wage system, and thus the gap between their incomes has increased. Usually retirees of state-owned institutions receive much lower retirement pension than retirees of public institutions, even in the cases when they had the same wage before retirement. However, it is mainly the retirees of state-owned enterprise who suffer from lower retirement pensions. Since there are now more and more private enterprises in China, they have introduced a higher wage system and retirement system to attract talented persons. Or, Global Action on Aging would ask, if the private sector is pressuring the government to keep taxes low and thereby starving the public sector, including its pension system.

China: 20,000 Retirees Stop Receiving Retirement Pensions Starting Next Month (July 27, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
From May 8 to July 18, Chengdu launched the validation of retirement pension eligibility. Some 20, 000 retirees didn’t get the necessary validation procedure done before July 18 and hence they will not be able to receive their retirement pension beginning next month. For those retirees who haven’t done the validation process, they have to bring their identity cards, social security card and “Chengdu retirees’ social security contact card” issued to them in 2005 to the social security office in their residential area and undergo the validation procedure. Those who are eligible will continue receiving their retirement pension starting next month. 

China, Macau: Macau Increases 3 Social Security Pensions (July 25, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
Starting from August 1, 2006, the elderly pension and disability “consolation” pension in Macau will increase by 300 Macau Patacas (MOP) (US $39), to MOP 1450 (US $188). The social security pension will increase by MOP 200 (US $26), to MOP 950 (US $123). The percentage increases for all three social security pensions’ amounts to a 26% hike.

China: Shenyang Changes Industrial Injury Consolation Pension to Basic Elderly Pension (July 25, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
Workers that sustained level 1- 4 industrial injuries before December 2003 will undergo a special retirement process, first receiving an industrial injury “consolation pension.” If a “consolation pension” is below Shenyang’s lowest income level, the compensation will be raised to that level. However, from July 1, 2006 those workers will then have to retire at the normal retirement age, at which time they will receive the basic elderly pension. If retirees have a basic pension less than the “consolation pension,” the Industrial Injury Pension Funds will make up the difference. 

China: Guangdong landless farmers will be covered under elderly pension system
(July 19, 2006)

(Article in Chinese)
Guangdong’s landless farmers will be covered under basic elderly insurance before the end of this year. As the urbanization of China has proceeded, the government has taken the land of nearby farmers, rendering them “landless.” According to National People’s Congress research, about 120 million of farmers and landless farmers in Guangdong were covered under elderly pension system until the end of 2005. But the pension covered less than 60% of the farmers in Guangdong. In fact, the percentage of farmers covered was the lowest in the country. This situation created great hardship and social unrest among those landless farmers who have no pension. Now the government will give landless farmers an elderly pension system before the end of year 2006 so that they can maintain a basic standard of living.

China: Yichang Social Security Department Implements Fingerprint Authentication Technology (July 15, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
In order to manage the release of social security funds more effectively, Yichang Social Security Department implemented a fingerprint authentication technology. The identity of the retired personnel who joined the social security insurance has to be verified by the identification system, or else the system is going to stop the release of their pension automatically. According to Yichang Social Security Department, since 2004, the identity of 210 dead retired personnel were stolen; 115 million yuen were lost under identity fraud, of which 300,000 yuen have been recovered.

India: National Old Age Pension Increased To Rs.200 (July 13, 2006)
India has a National Old Age Pension scheme as part of wider National Social Assistance Program. A means-tested program, it targets only those who are the most destitute. On July 13th, the Union Cabinet increased the amount of the monthly pension for each beneficiary from 75 Reupees (US$ 1.6) to 200 Reupees (US $ 4.3). The officials expect that the larger amount will help old and poor persons to manage their livelihoods better. 

China: 1.46 Billion Yuan Misappropriated Elderly Pension has been Recovered (July 7, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
In 2004, the Municipal People's Congress in Guangzhou launched a public inquiry and reported the alarming news that the Social Security Organization had misappropriated 8 billion yuans in elderly pensions. The Guangzhou Labor Department has announced that they have recovered 1.46 billion (approximately $183 million) of the misappropriated pensions. The government is going to increase its contribution to the pensions so that the elders’ pension checks will not change.

Background: In 1993, Labor Department Document 107 allowed Social Security Organizations to invest their funds in the financial markets, provided they had enough funds for their operational costs. At that time, the Social Security organizations under the Labor Department moved 8 billion yuans (approximately $1 billion) as the operation fees to the corporations under them. In 1994, the Labor Department and the Financial Department issued a document which banned the flow of Social Security funds to the market and stated that the misappropriated funds have to be recovered. In 2000, the Labor Department and the Social Security Department set up a debt collection team to recover the misappropriated funds. 

China: Flexible Employment Pension Monthly Minimum Payment Is Increased (June 30, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
In Nanjing, the minimum monthly payment for a flexible employment pension has increased from 207 yuan (approximately $25) to 244 yuan (approximately $30). Flexible employment means those who are self-employed, who own their own business or those who engage in personal economic activities. The Labor and Social Security Bureau sets a base number for the minimum pension. The flexible employment pension is calculated by multiplying the base number by 20%. Because the Labor and Social Security Bureau adjusted the base number upward for 2006, starting July 1, the flexible employment pension minimum payment will be increased to 244 yuan. 

Malaysia: Call For Old-age Pension for Citizens (June 25, 2006)
A famous activist, Datuk Seri Ang Lai Soon, talks about the need to implement social pension programs. According to him, a large portion of older adults in Malaysia have either very limited income or no savings at all and therefore face financial difficulties. Ang believes that Malaysia will be able to afford the program as it has abundant natural resources. He says, "I don't think it is too much to ask that the elderly be treated with respect and be provided with the means of living out the autumn of their lives in a comfortable, secure and pleasant environment.”

China: Elderly Pension Inquiry System Launched (June 24, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
The Ningxia elderly pension inquiry system was launched on June 23, 2006. The elderly pension inquiry system installed a special elderly inquiry hotline that can be used district-wide. The hotline offers current information on older persons’ pensions for employed and retired employees, on pension policies and on payments of elderly insurance.

Bangladesh: Allowance for Elderly Poor in City Planned (Jun21, 2006) 

The Bangladesh government is paying more attention to the socio-economic well being of older adults in rural areas. The social safety net allowance will now expand for those in urban areas. Finance and Planning Minister Saifur Rahman said, “Now we want to do something for the very poor people living on footpaths and railway stations.” The budget for fiscal year 2006-2007 proposed an increase for the safety net allowance, as well as an increase for the number of beneficiaries.

Malaysia: Gone Within Three Years (June 18, 2006)
Many Malaysians believe that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is their savings account. Despite the belief, a recent study claims that nearly 70% of retirees use up their EPF funds within the first 3 years of their retirement. In other words, many retirees do not have much money left by the 4th or 5th year into their retirement. For many older adults without filial children or caring families, their lives after retirement will be difficult. 

New Zealand: NZ Better Positioned for Aging of Population (June 7, 2006)
“The United Nations estimates that by 2050 the median age will increase by 10 years to 38,” meaning that the population in general will become older. According to the report of the Credit Ratings Agency “Standard and Poor,” New Zealand’s welfare system is more prepared for the impact of aging population than many European countries. 

China: Xiamen Asks for Pension Eligibility Certification (May 18, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
Starting from May 18 to July 25, retirees not under social management in Xiamen must certify their pension eligibility. If the Xiamen social security authorities don’t receive the certification they will suspend the pension payments to retirees beginning in August. The measure aims to prevent pension forgery. 

China: Dignity for All in Retirement (May 15, 2006)
(Article in French) 
Critics and legislators call for the implementation of a universal retirement protection for the aged. The present system discriminates against low-income groups, housewives and the unemployed. The number of seniors claiming social security has surged over the past two decades. As Hong Kong's population rapidly ages, a comprehensive pension funding scheme is ever more necessary. Though boasting a $14 billion (11 billion euros) surplus, the government is reluctant to implement pension schemes that might prove to be unpopular with middle-class voters.

China: Hard Times Ahead for Chinese Retirees with Little Income (May 3, 2006) 

(Article in French) 
China is aging at pace that is far superior to its growth and development rates. The consequences in the long term are worrying both population experts and rural families, lacking social security. By 2013, China is expected to experience its first staff shortages, placing it well behind countries with younger population such as India. Projections show that Chinese older persons will retire without the support of a social security system, earning only a third of Japan’s present day per capita income. 

Hong Kong: Elderly Aid Complies with International Standards (April 26, 2006)

In Hong Kong, the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau states that the current social security system adopts international standards set by the World Bank. The Bureau is critical of a proposed universal pension system since many other countries are beginning to forsee problems with the pay-as-you-go system. Hong Kong’s government reiterates its concern for the well-being of older adults, yet urges families to assume responsibility for their elders. Global Action on Aging believes that both the state and families should address the needs of older adults.

Maldives: Social Protection in the Maldives: Options for Reforming Pensions and Safety Nets (April 25, 2006)
In this report the Asian Regional Unit of the World Bank presents a comprehensive study on social protection and pensions in the Maldives. Although these islands have performed formidably well in terms of economic growth, there are many Maldivians—especially women and older persons—who live in poverty. Supported by household surveys and administrative data, this report aims to assist the Maldivian government in reforming the social protection and pension system. 

Japan: The Pre-kin Generation Coming of Age at Work (April 24, 2006) 
(Article in French) 
Japanese women who started working before the implementation of the equal opportunities law in 1986 are known as pre-kin women. They now face retirement. This generation of women pushed for the rights of women in a male-dominated society. Younger generations of women enjoy the benefits of their victories. In their move towards retirement, they are reassessing their achievements.

China: Beijing Ministry of Labor & Social Security: The Basic Insurance Premium of Old-Age Pension Is Increased (April 11, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
The Department of Labor and Social Security of Beijing announced that starting April 10, 2006, the average premium for retirement pensions, unemployment protection, compensation for work-related injuries, and basic medical insurance will increase from 2362 RMB to 2734 RMB (about US$303 to US$350). The lower limit of the premium will move from 1417 RMB to 1640 RMB (about US$182 to US$210) and the upper limit of the premium will move from 7087 RMB to 8202 RMB (about US$909 to US$1051).

China: Reversal Mortgage: Robbery or Reform? (April 11, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
Home Mortgages have become a widely accepted means of personal financing in China, but what about reversal mortgages (RM)? Some experts believe China does not now have sufficient regulatory environment to support this kind of financing. First, according to the Civil Law, rural real estate can not be traded or loaned, which is an essential prerequisite for RM. Secondly, financing life after retirement is largely considered as part of social welfare, a public service. Therefore, public funding should be a major financial source. Thirdly, from the perspective of commercial banks, RM may be profitable, but it is also a very risky financial product. 

Pension Deal Approved, India Bank Strike Ends (April 11, 2006)
State Bank of India workers ended a strike they began on April 3, 2006, after government announced a pension arrangement. The deal creates a two-category system. Employees who made up to 21,040 rupees, or $471, as their last monthly salary, will receive 50 % of this amount as a monthly pension. Employees who earned more will receive a 40% pension.  

China: Dalian Encourages Home-Stay Retirement (April 10, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
In order to solve the retirement problem of low income elderly and the unemployment of woman workers, Dalian has encouraged “home-stay retirement” since 2002. The Civil Administration and the Housing Department arranged for unemployed woman workers in the community to care for older persons who spend their retirement at home. In this way, elderly can get care and unemployed woman workers can earn a stable income. The “123” Policy that provides income adjusted assistance drives the system. For example, the district government provides a 300 RMB old-aged pension for those retired without any income while those who earn more than 1200RMB have to pay for their own retirement service.

Japan: Firms Should Honor Law on Employing Elderly (March 20, 2006)
Although Japanese corporate workers usually retire when they turn 60, a revised law will eventually require corporations to keep workers on their payroll until age 65. The amended law will help secure employment for older persons as well as attempt to complement changes made to corporate employee pension plans. The retirement age needs to be raised to 65 by 2013 because the starting age for pension payments will be moved from 60 to 65 beginning the same year.

: China’s Northeast Points Way to Pension Reform (March 12, 2006)
According to statistics, China is aging fast. The pilot social security program in Northeast China demonstrates the government moving away from a pay as you go system to one that uses private accounts. The transition costs may be difficult to sustain. GAA wonders if US based financial firms are watching the process with an interest in managing the private accounts. For the moment, at least one near-retiree believes that private accounts will serve him well. Li Xianglin, a 52 year-old Chinese man said, “When I retire, I’ll be comfortable.”

China: Three News Reports on Chinese Elderly Related Issues (February 22, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
The First National People's Congress released official guidelines on pension subsidies. Essentially, current retirees will keep enjoying the same subsidy while future retirees will access the new subsidy. In addition, an official report “Prospects on China Elderly in the Next Century” was released recently. According to the report, China will experience the increasingly pressing issue of an aged population in the late 21st century. In the meanwhile, Guangdong Province plans to set up programs improving the quality of life for the elderly in the near future.

South Korea: National Pension Plan Has ‘Blind Spots’ (February 14, 2006)
The National Assembly’s Special Committee on Pension Reform says that the current problems in the National Pension System are the issue of “unstable finance” and its “blind spots.” In order to correct these problems, these two issues need to be resolved. Statistics show that one-third of those who qualify for pensions are not enrolled and are low income persons. The current pension system requires workers to make small contributions now for big returns in the future. Jeong Gyeong-bae, who is the head of the Korean Welfare Economy Research Institute, suggests a “minimum pension system” to provide minimum benefits even for those that cannot afford to make the monthly contributions. 

China: More on the Pension Reform (February 9, 2006) 
Labor relations experts have demonstrated the long term benefits of the new pension reform. First, many believe that current retirees will not be affected by the changes. Second, the change will create Individual Accounts in real terms, i.e., the more money that employees deposit, the more benefits they will get in return upon reaching retirement. In addition, minimizing individual accounts by reducing individual deposits from 11% of their wage to 8% will further strengthen the adjustment power of the Basic Accounts pension. The government will be able to allocate funds better to where it’s needed the most. 

China: Shanghai to Commercialize Pension System (January 26, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
Shanghai is reportedly going to privatize part of its local pension system. Starting from February 2006, the new pension plan will be consist of two components, a basic account and a personal account. Benefits from the basic account will correspond directly to years of employment. The private sector will manage the personal accounts through commercial offerings; the rate of return is expected to hit 4 percent. 

China: The Aging of China Changes the Standards of World Economic Growth (January 25, 2006)
(Article in Arabic)
While the transition to an aging population took 115 years in France, 60 years in the United States, and 45 years in Great Britain, China will experience its demographic change in only 18 years. Experts predict that China’s demographic shift will have an strong effect on the global economy. By 2010, China will have to reserve $800 billion for its pension system. At that point the United States will no longer benefit from the money coming from China’s imports of US products. 

China: Pension Reform Expedited and Expanded (January 23, 2006)
(Article in Chinese)
On Jan. 19, the spokesperson at the Ministry of Labor and Social Security’s fourth quarter press conference announced that a total of eight cities and provinces including Tianjin, Shanghai, Shan’xi, Shandoing, Henan, Hubei, and Xinjiang will be test implementing the new Pension System, expanding the total number of test provinces up to 11, eight more than what was under the tenth “Five Year Plan.”

India: India to Get Its Own Social Security System (January 22, 2006)

The government of India is currently working on a bill to promote the care, maintenance and protection of senior citizens. The National Council for Older Persons and several other NGO’s have helped the government develop its program. The new system will offer services, such as an old age pension, minimum level of financial security, old age home in each district and well-equipped wards in each hospital.

China: New Pension System to Be Fully Implemented by the End of This Year 
(January 20, 2006)

(Article in Chinese)
According to spokesperson from Ministry of Labor and Social Security on Jan 19, the new pension system is expected to be fully in place nationwide by the end of this year. In the meanwhile, individual accounts need further refinement in eight additional test cities and provinces, including Tianjin. The spokesperson said the main reason for the reform is to encourage more individual deposits and connect benefits to the length of enrollment. 

China: What’s New with New Social Pension Fund Regulations? (January 12, 2006)
According to the new social pension regulations, starting in Jan. 1, 2006, an individual’s share of the pension contribution continues to amount to 8% of his or her annual salary. The employer’s share, despite being the same, will now be collected and managed by relevant social pension agencies. Under the current system, the government pays retirees’ pensions out of basic accounts to which employers contribute. However, a chronic shortage of basic account funds has led social pension agencies to borrow from personal accounts, which were originally designed as a reserve fund to deal with future aging challenges. The new system will attempt to leave the personal accounts untouched.

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Europe and Central Asia

France: A Small Improvement of the Low Agricultural Pensions (December 31, 2006)
(Article in French)
As President Chirac announced in October, farmers’ pensions will be raised beginning January 2007. The change would lower the number of years required to have a “complete” career and to deduct less money for each “missed” year. Some 300,000 French farmer-pensioners should receive an income raise, which is essential since many of them earn less than the old basic income.

France: A Bonus for the Civil Servants in the Departments Outside Metropolitan France Will Be Maintained (December 5, 2006)
(Article in French)
The French Senator, Jean Arthuis, proposed for the fourth time to abandon the pension system for civil servants working outside Metropolitan France. Besides heavenly living conditions (in the Caribbean or in Polynesia), they benefit from larger pensions. Implemented in the 1950s, this measure served to spur civil servants to go and work in the colonial Empire, which was a difficult posting at that time. Nowadays this system ruins the local authorities and is misused, claims the Senator.

Georgia: Georgian Pensioners Won’t Receive Differentiated Pensions This Year (December 5, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
Social Security Fund administrators of Georgia announced that this year Georgian pensioners still won’t receive pensions, reflecting the number of years they worked and their job descriptions. Unofficial sources claim that the Georgian government purposefully postponed pension changes in order to launch it on the eve of new presidential elections in 2008.

European Union: EU Pension “Maze” Costs Jobs – Aegon Study (December 4, 2006)
While Europeans have the best social protection in the world, multinational firms want to change it. The corporations are looking for ways to shift from defined-benefit to defined-contribution schemes. European institutions should quickly respond to this dangerous challenge. Workers face the risk of having multinational firms impose their own integrated cross-border corporate pension systems that national governments could no longer control.

Spain: The Judge Denies Pension to a “Househusband” after a Homosexual Divorce (December 2, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
Joaquín Valdeolivas and V.T. were married and Valdeolivas was the househusband. When V.T. divorced Valdeolivas, Valdeolivas demanded a pension of 1,200 euros in addition to 30,000 euros for all the housework he did during the marriage as well as the work he did for V.T.’s business. However, a judge denied this request and offered another financial solution.

Ireland: Old-Age Pension Likely to Increase to €208 (November 30, 2006)
Eighteen percent of the Irish population has reach 65 years or older. In the near future the “grey” vote will become more influential in the general elections. As a result, politicians have begun to look at the well-being of the elderly, making aging concerns an important part of the next political campaign. The Irish government strategy supports more spending on health care. Contributory and non-contributory pensions are going to increase. Officials plan to budget for providing more nursing homes and home health aides.

Sweden: Swedish Blue-Collar Workers Want White-Collar Pensions (November 28, 2006)
Following the elections in October, the new government and Prime Minister must face their first challenge. Blue-collar workers claim the same defined-contribution pension scheme that the white-collar employees obtained recently. Employer contributions rose from 3.5% to 4.5%. Blue-collar employers stopped talks with unions; they refuse to raise contributions while wages are being negotiated.

Sweden: Sweden Mulls New Pension Admin Body (November 20, 2006)
A legislator proposed to create a new authority that could administer both the Premium Pension Authority (PPM) and the pay-as-you-go income related state pension. This authority would be efficient due to its centralization: it would have a better overview of the national pension system. Yet the current state pension’s administration opposes this proposal saying that its local offices provide services and information to pensioners. This is an old debate about centralization. Which program will serve older people better?

Cyprus: Cyprus Passes Pension Fund Law (November 20, 2006)
Cyprus voted for a bill to establish national pension funds. The government wants to encourage the use of financial instruments and investments in stock exchange investments. The EU pension directive strongly urges governments to move in this direction. Other new EU members will likely follow this path to accelerate their integration into the union.

Russia: Pension Fund Workers Embezzled 5 Millions Rubles (November 18, 2006)
(Article in Russian) 
The court in Bashkiria found four workers guilty of robbing the Pension Fund with a simple scheme that deceived the State and pensioners. They created fraudulent documents, claiming that they had received less money for pension payments than what was paid out in reality. The criminals pocketed the difference between the real amount of received money and what was paid to the pensioners. It is not the first time that the police have discovered fraud involving pension money. Nobody knows how many criminals are out there, buying houses and jewelry while poor older people do not have enough to buy a loaf of bread. 

Russia: No Match… (November 13, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
According to the data provided by the Head of the Pension Fund, Gennady Batanov, pensions in Russia increased by 11 percent over the past 9 months. However, real life is far less rosy. Today the average pension amount in Russian is 2,877 Russian rubles (USD 106), while the minimum pension is 1000 rubles (USD 37). Unlike the authorities from the Pension Fund, people believe that they should receive at least 8,720 rubles (USD 322) to have a decent income.

Russia : The Destiny of the Premium (November 11, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
According to the article, Yekaterinburg pensioners hope that they will receive a municipal premium with their pension next year. The chairman of the local Duma said that the legislature will try to pass a bill, granting such a premium to pensioners. He also said that the realizing the premium depends mainly on the region’s budget.

Scotland: Workplace Pensions 'Could Be Cut' (November 10, 2006)
A major reform might implement a personal account system in Scotland. Employers, workers and State would have to contribute to this account. However this proposal is criticized as a “leveling down” since many companies with the current system contribute far more than 3%.

UK: Government Employment Strategy Not Challenging Enough (November 8, 2006)
At the Work & Pensions Select Committee evidence session, Patrick Grattan, the Chief Executive of TAEN, gave striking evidence to support his statement that the Government was not doing enough with labor and pensions. Based on the evidence, dictated in the report, Grattan suggested what the Government should do to improve its performance. Some of them were: rigorous assessment of the relevance of the National Default Retirement Age of 65 and a more ambitious Public Sector Agreement for the Department of Work and Pensions to name a few.

Ukraine: “Soon Every Pensioner Will Get About $100” (November 6, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
The President of Ukraine said that “Soon every pension will get about $100,” at an award ceremony for social workers. He also promised to change the social care policy so that those who need social help will indeed receive it. Unfortunately, these statements litter political life. Older persons only hope that one day the promise will come true.

European Union: Portugal Spending More Citizens’ Social Protection (November 4, 2006) 
Eurostat, the EU statistics office, assessed how much States spend on their social protection. Sweden and France, respectively, top the list with 33.5% and 30.9% of their gross domestic product (GDP). Portugal spends 24.3%of its GDP, old age pensions accounting for the major share of benefits paid out. The average expenditure on social protection in the 15- member states is 28%of the GDP, compared to 23.8% in the US. The new EU members from Eastern Europe are reaching the same rates.

Russia: Pensioners in Belgorod Have to Buy Free Medication (November 2, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
Last year pensioners had to choose whether they wanted social benefits or monetary compensation as their pension. Many chose benefits and lost, it appears. Despite government promises, free medication is not available at pharmacies. Left without a choice, pensioners are forced to buy medication that they should have received for free. 

Czech Republic: Pension Pinch (November 1, 2006)
The European Commission, the World Bank, Standard & Poor’s and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that the Czech Republic’s pension system is about to be insolvent. Today the State can guarantee pensions worth nearly 41 percent of a person's gross salary, but it won’t be able to afford those in a couple of years. Yet no political party proposes reform; it is too politically dangerous.

France: Deputies Exempt Taxes on Compensation to a Retired Employee (November 1, 2006) 
(Article in French)
Deputies voted an amendment to the 2007 bill for Social Security financing against the advice of the Social Security Secretary and in opposition to the government’s efforts to extend the working life of employees. The amendment exempts retirement compensation from taxes, pushing employees to retire earlier. French politicians have conflicting goals about the employment of persons over 50: what is the point of maintaining those retirement advantages while the pension system debt is growing? 

France: Is It Useful to Sign on to a Pension-Investment Plan? (October 29, 2006)
(Article in French)
One of the French pension-investment plans, launched in the 2003 reform, has had troubles finding customers. Since the end of the year is always more favorable to sign on to a pension-investment, banks and insurance companies will emphasize this financial product during the coming weeks. The French government considers these investment plans as a way to strengthen savings for retirement. It has asked companies to inform potential customers of the risks of such a purchase.

Germany: German Government Agrees to First-Pillar Reform (October 26, 2006)
The German coalition government, whose electorate was waiting for its first reforms on social field, has just tackled the pension issue. The requirements for the new state pension system, effective from early 2007, will be harder to meet. The retirement age will be raised to 67 years old, and people will have to pay contributions for 45 years at least to be eligible for a full-benefit. The full-pension itself will be reduced to 46% of former salary, while the contributions will increase. The standard of living, upon retirement, appears lower for the future generations.

Serbia: Five Percent Set Aside for Private Pensions (October 26, 2006)
This article describes a survey on the population of new EU members. Most workers don’t set aside -- or cannot afford -- enough money for their pensions. They must count on improvements in the state pensions system to increase their future pensions, otherwise lots of these Europeans will fall below the poverty line.

Italy: Pension Accord Signed (October 23, 2006)
Government, unions and employers signed an agreement with a view to changing the Italian pension system. It’s a first step to restructure the stagnant economy. All severance funds will be transferred to the State. This will give new resources to the state pension fund. It will also offer more guarantees to the workers instead of putting their money at risk in a fund held by a company that could use it as cheap financing.

European Union: Youths from the South Guarantee Secure Retirements (October 19, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
Low fertility rate translates into shortages of retirement funding. As the European Union gets older and with fewer contributors to social security, the young immigrants are the ones who save the day. At the Sixth International Conference on Migration, held in Lisbon, the economic and social specialists of the United Nations show that immigrants play a big role in securing retirement income for the next two or three generations. Research confirms that the possible crisis with the social security situation has been avoided thanks to the thousands of immigrants from the South. Will this make the EU relax its restrictive immigration laws?

UK: Mothers 'Throw Away' Their Pension Top-Ups (October 15, 2006)
Due to new government legislation people could simply be throwing their voluntary national insurance contributions (Nics) away. Women are especially concerned. They use Nics to get a full pension if they had a career break--to raise their children for example. If the Parliament passes the law, there is no guarantee that all such women will receive the money back through their pension. The British government wants to oblige people to contribute sufficient funds to pay for their pensions.

Germany: Academic Urges Chilean-Style Reform for Germany (October 12, 2006)
Because of the aging population, the “pay-as-you-go” system is often said to be unsustainable. Professor J. Donges praises the Chilean scheme (General Pinochet forced this system on Chile that is widely discredited now). Employees must contribute, on a tax-deferred basis, at least 10 percent of wages into a fund. External managers, and not the government, manage and profit from those fund’s assets. Finally, savings from the fund are withdrawn and taxed when employees retire. But we mustn’t forget that this system carries certain serious risks that come with investment in the private markets.

Portugal: Portugal Agrees on Pension Reform (October 11, 2006)
The Socialist party in power is discussing a double pension reform. State pensions will be indexed to life expectancy and economic growth. Portuguese must expect changes more or less pleasant; for example, working longer because of the improvement of life conditions. As they stay in the labor force, workers’ pensions will increase at a rate higher than inflation. 

Moldova: Parliament Takes on Smirnov Over Pension Reform (October 10, 2006)
Parliament decided to raise pensions but opposed the President’s proposal to increase them even more. They don’t reject social progress, but they find President Smirnov’s plan “populist electioneering” and “irresponsible.” (Next elections will take place December 10.) Pridnestrovie, also called Transnistria, has no money to fund the pensions, and Parliament is afraid of facing the same situation as in 2002 when pensions were paid late because of a lack of funds to cover an unbudgeted increase.

France: Retired Immigrants Will Be Allowed to Stay Only Three Months in France (October 5, 2006) 
(Article in French)
After changing the pension system of veterans from the former French colonies, France is taking care of its old immigrant workers. The government plans to lower to 3 months the stay in France to benefit from the old-age pension, a specific allowance from “the fund for solidarity with the elderly.” The compulsory duration of stay is currently 9 months; it is considered a residence requirement, and prevents many retired immigrants from going back to their native country.

Belarus : Pensioners Owe the State (October 5, 2006)
(Article in Russia)
According to the information agency,   Minsk pensioners and their employers have to return 1 milliard 200 million Belarusian Rubles to the government.  Why?  Under Belarusian laws,  a pensioner who continues to work must go to the local social security office and register as a working pensioner. In these cases the pension amount is then reduced. This situation seems unfair, because the state “punishes” those who would like to work after the pension age, not caring how a pensioner in today’s Belarus can survive until the end of the month living only on his tiny pension. Is this “easy money” for the government at the expenses of retirees?

Russia : Older People Choose Monetary Compensation instead of Benefits (October 4, 2006)
(Article in Russia)
Older people tend to choose monetary compensation over social benefits for a single reason. In many cases it is very hard to use the benefits, especially for pensioners living in rural areas. The administration cannot provide every person who requires resort treatment with a vacation package. Free medication prescribed by doctors is usually ineffective. Besides, the pharmacies often do not stock necessary drugs. It is obvious, that benefits for the pensioners cost the State more than its monetary compensation. This may explain why authorities seem to do everything to force pensioners to choose a modest amount of compensation instead of free medication and resort treatments.

Estonia: Every Crone Invested in Pension Fund Should Be Counted as A Golden One (October 3, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
In today’s Postimees, one of the highly ranked authorities raises the problem of banking fee services, and asks for an investigation of bank activities. This is an extraordinary event. Never before has anyone had courage to raise a question about the extent of bank and insurance companies’ profits that have come from pension “reform.”

Portugal: Retirement Age Pushed to the Gates of the Cemetery Because of Subsidies (September 2006)
While the author lashes out at the Portuguese government, the argument could concern many other countries. According to the writer, the Portuguese government imposes lots of sacrifices and new cuts to save the population from the “bankruptcy of Social Security.” Meanwhile the government grants subsidies to multinational firms so that they settle temporarily in the country, before relocating elsewhere. Those subsidies obviously reduce the “public coffers,” making little available to finance social policies or increase pensions. Portuguese elderly get very low pensions; most retirees receive pensions of less than 300 euros per month.

France: Pensions Increase the Social Security Deficit in 2006 (September 27,2006)
(Article in French)
Contrary to government expectations, the social security deficit has not gone down: it is now estimated at about 11.8 billion euros in 2006. Despite the savings that the 2004 reform imposed on health coverage, the social security accounts suffer particularly from the spending in the “pension branch” (the French social system is threefold, it deals with the branches of national health, pension and unemployment). The French system must finance the newly created Fund for Solidarity with the Elderly and they must respond to “early” retirements of workers who started as young as 14 years old in the paid labor market.

Russia: There Are 574 Thousand of Pensioners Living in Orenburg Region, 410 Thousand of Them are Aged Pensioners (September 26, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
The society and state should have the goal of improving the lives of pensioners. The article presents the report of the Orenburg Administration about social security measures in the region. These measures are supposed to help pensioners in their day to day lives. But is this really enough and can we believe that these measures will be effective?

Ukraine: Not Everybody Will Receive Their Pension this Year (September 25, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
A shortage of pension funds in Ukraine resulted because authorities did not plan the annual budget carefully. New Ukrainian laws allow certain governmental agencies (Ministry of Internal Affairs, State Department of Execution of Criminal Sanctions) to control payments to their former employees without consulting the State’s pension fund.
As a result of reckless planning and legislature, the monthly living allowances of thousands of pensioners are in jeopardy.

France: Pension Investment in France After the 2003 Reform: What Kind of Complement Did They Bring to the Pay-As-You-Go System? (September 21, 2006)
(Report in French)
The report studies pension–investments –measures that are still understandable for most of French citizens- and the ways to develop them. Pension-investments are defined as “all the financial investment contracts that help to make up savings during the working life, in order to get another source of income upon retirement.” This definition rules out a certain kinds of investment that are focused on pensions, such as life insurance and real estate investments. The author confirms that pension-investment only complements the French pay-as-you-go system, and mustn’t be confused with the pension funds in the USA or in the UK. The document contains a glossary with all the abbreviations used to refer to pension-investment: Prefon, PERP, COREM, PERCO, etc…

France: Retirement: Must France Abolish the Special Pension Regimes? (September 21, 2006)
(Article in French)
In France the pension system is composed of one general pension system and 124 special ones that soon may disappear. These special pension systems are linked to historic essential public works, such as railroads, subways, electrical power generation, gas and water supply. Public criticism focuses on their marginally better “deal” since these workers contribute to their pensions over a shorter period of time and will earn a higher pension than those who receive a general pension. Trade union leaders say that this controversy might weaken the entire pension system if most French people oppose the public sector workers.

Russia: Kursk Administration Makes New Rules for Work with Older Persons (September 18, 2006)
Article in Russia)
The Kursk administration decided to develop a project, “Older generation,” for 2007-2010. In the Kursk region every fourth citizen falls into this category. Very often their pension is their only source of income. Because the pension amount is very small, many older persons live in poverty. The administration plans to develop a set of special measures that would help alleviate the consequences of the  transition period (from Soviet to Federation) for older people.  

ance: Francois Fillon Still Wants to Reform the Special Pension Regimes (September 14, 2006)
(Article in French)
Mr. Fillon, Mr. Sarkozy’s political adviser and former Secretary of Social Affairs, has proposed to end special pension regimes’ benefits (such as those found in the railroad companies where workers can retire earlier than others). This proposition could become the social program of the French right-wing party, called UMP, in the next presidential elections. In 2003 Mr. Fillon had already suggested lengthening the contributions in the public service (from 37.5 to 40 years). This change would satisfy private sector workers who regard public retirement pensions as “unfair.”

Russia: Crowd in the Pension Fund Offices (September 6, 2006)
Less than a month remains until October 1 when pensioners must decide whether they want a monetary compensation or benefits (free medication, health resort treatment, including train transportation to and from the resort). Surprisingly, it appears difficult to choose the monetary option since the applicant must negotiate through time-consuming paperwork and then wait in lines in crowded pension fund offices to file the necessary forms. 

UK: Unions Attack 'Upstairs-Downstairs' Pensions Divide, September 6, 2006
While management is forcing workers to accept huge cuts in their retirement pensions, a recent analysis conducted by the TUC (Trade Unions Congress) reveals that directors of top companies amassed pensions of nearly £1bn, mostly in guaranteed final salary schemes.  According to the report, the average executive of a FTSE 100 company can retire at 60 on a final salary pension worth nearly £3m. The largest director's pension in each company is on average nearly £5m, more than 40 times most workers’ pensions. The TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, urges investors to demand uniform and open reporting of workers and executive pensions from companies. The figures are likely to cause uproar at upcoming Labour and TUC conferences.

Russia: Pensioners Will Pay (September 6, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
This summer pensioners complained to the Murmansk Pension Fund Division on a regular basis. Knowing that they were eligible for compensation for travel expenses once a year, the older people had gone off on vacation eagerly. Upon their return, they faced an unpleasant surprise: the authorities announced that would provide compensation only for those who traveled to the “south,” but not to the “north.” Was this fair?

Russia: Russia’s Pension Reform Crisis Is Evident (August 15, 2006)

(Article in Russian)
In 2001, Russia launched its pension reform: pensions are paid on time and are constantly indexed. However, many experts now agree that there is a clear crisis in Russian’s pension reform because of sharp increases in life expectancy among the elderly and plunging fertility rates. The article overviews causes and consequences of the pension reform crisis and provides suggestions for what to do about it.

Russia: Echo of Monetization (August 8, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
The monetary compensation of pensions in Russia leads to negative consequences not only on pensioners, but on the transportation system as well. Under the newly enacted law the pensioners would no longer enjoy free transportation. Instead, the local and federal administrations should provide the elders with fair compensation. However, many  older people do not receive the money for various reasons, while the transportation companies are no longer eligible for previous subsidies to provide citizens with free transportation.

UK: Pensions Burden Damaging UK Firms (July 17, 2006)
In order to offer employees a final salary pension scheme, UK companies lose profitability. Paying about one fifth of workers’ salaries, the companies’ accumulate high pension costs, which negatively impact investment and job creation. The government’s recent Pensions White Paper calls for reductions in regulations and rules to ease the burden on companies. However, many employers will reduce pension benefits or workers will have to make higher contributions. Will the retirees get sufficient funds to live in retirement?

Russia: Disparity Between Pensions and Wages Continues to Increase (July 4, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
The difference between pensions and salaries continues to increase in Russia. In May 2006, the average pension benefits amounted to only 27.2 percent of the average salary. In the opinion of specialists from the Russian School of Economics, in order to eliminate such a disparity it is necessary to raise the retirement age and simultaneously increase pension benefits.

Latvia: Latvia Raises Pension Age for Women (July 1, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
On July 1, the Latvian government raised the retirement age for women from 60.5 to 61 years. The government plans to increase it gradually up to 62 years by 2008. Experts say that such changes are necessary to assure the stabilization of the pension system in Latvia.

Netherlands: Dutch to Abolish Civil Service Retirement Age (June 28, 2006)
The Dutch government wants to abolish the mandatory retirement age of 65 years for civil servants aiming to increase their labor participation. The number of older people wishing to continue working after 65 is increasing in this country. In 2004, 83,000 citizens over 65 were working beyond their official retirement age.

Russia: Legislature Satisfied the Request of 80-Year Old Pensioners (June 27, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into effect a law ordering the recalculation of pensions for citizens from the date of their 80th Birthday. Previously, the Pension Fund increased the pensions for those over 80 years in the month following their Birthday. Also, 80 year old pensioners will no longer have to apply for a recalculation in their pension. 

Denmark: Denmark Raises Pension Age (June 27, 2006)
According to the welfare reform bill, the Danish government will gradually raise the retirement age from 65 years to 67 between 2024 and 2027 and increase early retirement age from 60 to 62 between 2019 and 2022. The government claims the welfare reform is necessary to prepare Denmark for the challenges of a graying population, while critics say it will erode the generous welfare system. 

Russia: Russia Guarantees Social Protection to Its Citizens in Prindestrovie (June 23, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
More than 30,000 pensioners who live in the autonomous republic of Pridnestrovie and possess Russian citizenship will receive pensions from the Russian Pension Fund. They were excluded from the Russian Social Security framework during the long-term clash between Moldova and Pridnestrovie. The Russian Federation and the Pridnestrovskaya Moldavian Republic made this decision within one month after signing the “Protocol on Cooperation in All Spheres of Mutual Relations” in May 2006.

Russia: Social Package or Money? (June 20, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
Russian pensioners have to make a choice between two pension schemes: the social package (which guarantees free-of-charge medicines, sanatorium treatment, suburban transport travel) or cash compensation. Up to the present, only 3,000 pensioners have made a choice. The Pension Fund urges pensioners who want to receive money instead of privileges to file applications to the Pension Fund by October 1, 2006. Otherwise the enrollment in the social package will occur automatically.

Russia: Pension Fund Building to be Built in Dagestan (June 19, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
The Pension Fund of the Republic of Dagestan plans to construct a regional branch building in the small town of Izberbash by the end of this year. The existence of the new branch office will make it more convenient for the pensioners of Izberbash region to receive their pensions.

Russia: The Government Decided What to Do with Pensioners (June 14, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
According to a report by Moscow authorities, Russia’s pension reform, implemented by the government last year, puts a heavier financial burden on the city of Moscow than the authorities expected. The monetary compensation of benefits that the pensioners used to enjoy exceeded 5% of Moscow’s budget. Despite the budget shortage, the government will increase benefits to pensioners, not specifying the source of additional funds. 

Moldova: Better Pension System for Moldova: Social Protection Management Project (June 8, 2006)
This article explores the purposes and results of the World Bank’s Social Protection Management Project launched six years ago in Moldova to support the reformation of its social protection system. Many citizens feel they benefit from the reforms. Victor Codreanu, a 48-year old factory worker in the town of Ialoveni, feels a sense of relief: “"Even though retirement is still is a long way away, I do not worry because I know exactly what my pension will be, if I keep my current job and salary level."

France: After Youth Setback, French PM Eyes Older Workers (June 7, 2006) 
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who failed to secure backing for a controversial youth job creation scheme earlier this year, unveiled his new plans on Tuesday aimed at keeping older people at work. Villepin's popularity tumbled to record lows after the youth job scheme failed, but he has resisted calls to resign and insisted he would continue trying to reform the French economy. Indeed, the measure should be implemented by 2010 and go beyond the previous law on senior employment.

Turkey: Most SSK Pensioners Go Hungry (June 6, 2006)

In Turkey, 3.28 million out of 4.38 million pension recipients receive an amount that is below the hunger line. That means 86% of pension recipients may not have enough income to afford minimum necessities to live. Despite economical improvement of the country, many older pensioners do not benefit.

Russia: Pensioners in Russia: Who is to blame?( May 20, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
Many Russian pensioners find life very difficult. Younger generations cannot even imagine what challenges pensioners face every day. Some older people reminisce about Soviet Union times when they could live on their pensions and help their children. But was everything perfect back then? Which generation came closer to realizing the goals contained in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Russia: Abandoned Veterans (May 8, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
After an unsuccessful attempt to defend their rights at the local level, veterans of the City Perm wrote petitions to fourteen government institutions of the Russian Federation. The amount of monthly pension payments has increased under the Federal Law since April 1, 2006. However, World War II veterans receiving the payments within the framework of the Ministry of Defense were excluded from this scheme. Moreover, the pensioners stressed that Russia did not comply with its obligation to submit its objections concerning human rights violations of pensioners in Russia to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg. Experts expect the Court will make a decision on this issue by the end of this year.

UK: Save Now and Work until You Are 68 (May 29, 2006)
(Article in French)
By the time today’s workers stop working, they will face a 60% decrease in their pensions. Faced with a financial time bomb, the government is acting on recommendations made by Lord Turner, head of the Pensions Commission, released earlier this year. Compulsory savings schemes, gradual increase in retirement age and earning linked pensions are a few of the measures proposed by the government to tackle the pension crisis. The total pensions budget will increase and employees will be encouraged to save more for their retirement.

France: Mobilization Needed for June 8 (May 29, 2006) 

(Article in French) 
All French retiree unions decided to go on the streets this June 8, 2006. The protests will happen in every city of France and will aim at raising purchasing power for French seniors, as well as the Social Security’s reimbursement for disability equipment. Most Europeans retirees share these two concerns. That is why the European Federation of Retirees and Older Persons (FERPA), also organizes demonstrations at a continental level. 

UK: At-a-glance: Pensions White Paper (May 25, 2006)

In response to the Turner Report, a blueprint document from the Pensions Commission, the government has released a White Paper outlining reforms that will transform the UK pensions system. The 200-page document comprises a full analysis of the current pensions scheme and presents measures to be taken to modernize and sustain the system. One of the major implementations is the restoration of the link between state pensions and personal earnings; also raising retirement age to 68 by 2044. 
White Paper pdf. document

Russia: A Simple Prescription Against Poverty (May 30, 2006)

(Article in Russian)
The Russian Ministry for Social Development and Public Health has announced that in 2007 pensions will grow by 20%, and in 2008 the subsistence minimum for Russian pensioners will rise from 2,430 to 3,300 rubles. In this way, the government hopes to reduce the number of Russians living below the poverty line. However, some State Duma deputies express skepticism about the plan. They explain that the increase will not produce a substantial impact because current pensions are so minuscule. Even if the current pensions are increased by 20%, this amount will barely cover a retired person’s housing maintenance fees and utility bills. 

Chechnya: Chechen President Raises Pensions (May 24, 2006) 
(Article in Russian)
President of Chechnya Alu Alhanov issued an executive order concerning pensions of citizens who lost their work documentation papers during the armed conflicts of 1994-1995 and 1999-2000. These citizens will receive monthly additional 200-400 rubles (US $7-10) to their pension.

UK: Brown and Blair in Pensions Deal (May 12, 2006)
Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown have reached an agreement for reforming Britain’s pension system. By 2012, the link between the state pensions and earnings--broken in 1980--will be restored. The age of retirement will most likely be raised to 68 by 2050. Women will be required to contribute for only 30 years rather than 39. This agreement comes after months of discussions and continuing protests from pensioners. 

Belarus: Pensions Will Not Increase (May 1, 2006)
(Article in Russian) 
According to a new decree of President Alexander Lukashenko, the amount of the labor pension will be increased by 7% starting May 1, 2006. As a result, the average monthly payment will make 259,6 Belarusian rubles ($121). However, the former Minister of Labor argues that in reality this improvement is not significant because of the constant general market price increase.

World: The Future of Retirement: What the World Wants (April 30, 2006) 
(Article in French) 
The number of people aged 60 and over is increasing. According to the UN, by 2050 the number of older persons is projected to reach almost two billion, or 22% of the world’s population. Increasing longevity is changing the way we live and work. HSBC and the Oxford Institute on Ageing are publishing a study to advance the global debate on maturing populations and our changing approach to aging and retirement. By building a resource of knowledge to engage and inform people worldwide, they aim to help governments, individuals and businesses better understand the significant changes they are going to experience. The results of the study compare the attitudes of employers and consumers regarding aging and retirement. Data shows that 72% of the world population is opposed to a mandatory age of retirement. 

Spain: A New Approach for Using Reverse Mortgages for Pensions (April 25, 2006)

In Leon, Spain, some banks are implementing a novel program that will enable older persons who own a house or an apartment to access to income. The bank will use the property as a security and will pay the elder owner a monthly “pension” based on the value of the house. This might be a good option for older persons lacking substantial pensions; however, older adults considering this program should carefully analyze the risks involved. 

Netherlands: Dutch Moved to “Adopt a Granny” by Moldova Film (April 19, 2006)

A new Dutch movie that illustrates the lives of three elderly Moldovans living in poverty has moved audiences to donate to the “Adopt a Granny” project. This project provides financial support and medical care to older persons in eastern Europe and Africa. Many pensioners in Moldova and other eastern European countries are in financial trouble as the countries transition to a market economy.

European Union: Pension Policy in EU25 and its Possible Impact On Elderly Poverty (April 14, 2006)
This report describes briefly the pension reforms in the 25 European Union members. They are changing the Pay As You Go system to adopt new contribution schemes. The report focuses on the impact of the reforms in each country and reminds readers that “pensions were not introduced by chance, but were the result of social consensus that poverty amongst the elderly must be eliminated.” The authors have assessed how pensioners’ income will change in the next decades and analyze wether such reforms are politically sustainable. (An annex summarizes all national systems in table form.)

Europe: Uniting Over Pensions (April 12, 2006)

This article focuses on the current pension crisis in Europe and analyzes the different measures European countries are taking to address the problems affecting their public pension schemes. The possible increase in retirement age to 67 or 68 by 2050 is at the center of the pension debate. Many European workers highlight the fact that not all jobs are equally physically demanding. Frank J. Jensen, a 51-year-old construction worker in Copenhagen, says that “retirement shouldn't be decided by one's age, but whether you're worn out and fit for retirement.” 

UK: Inheritance Tax and Pensions Plunge Will Hit Tomorrow's Retirees (April 10, 2006)

(Article in French)
Mounting debts, low wages, and crashing private pensions cloud the future of today's young generation. As the baby boomers eat up their savings to fund their own retirement, they will leave little to the next generation. According to a survey by stockbrokers Wise Speke, young British workers are unprepared and will face unpleasant surprises when they receive small inheritances. 

UK: Older Workers Take Most New Jobs (April 13, 2006)

Because of the financial pressures created by pension shortfalls, a growing number of “pensionable” workers, men aged 65-plus and women aged 60-plus cannot afford to retire and take new jobs. On the one hand, the increase in the rate of senior employment is positive because it shows that older workers face less age discrimination. On the other hand, Third Age employment may be the sign of the declining financial condition of older persons.

France: And Once More; Pensions (April 7, 2006)
(Article in French)
In this column, French economist Michel Husson, reviews the last report of the French Council of Orientation on Pensions.  He criticizes policies aiming at delaying the retirement age in several European countries. Although he says that a longer working life could strengthen the balance in the national pension system, there won’t be enough employment for both younger and older workers in 10 or 20 years. As a result, jobless older workers will be forced to retire without having fulfilled their contribution obligation to be eligible for a full pension. The State would give fewer benefits to pensioners but  assume no responsibility for the lower national pension.

Denmark: Government Wants to Delay Retirement at 67 (April 5, 2006)
(Article in French)
The Danish government has proposed delaying the age of early retirement from 60 to 63 years and the age of standard retirement from 65 to 67 years. If adopted, these reforms would start in 2017.

UK: Pension Shake-up Plans Defended (April 4, 2006)
The newly released final report of the Pensions Commissions has caused much controversy in the UK. Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown have split views on whether or not to listen to the Pensions Commissions’ Chair, Lord Turner, to “radically” reform the pension system. The debate centers on (1) whether to end means testing and (2) how the State will finance the proposed changes. The article highlights the reaction of different organizations in both the public and private sectors. 

UK: Implementing an Integrated Package of Pension Reform (April 4, 2006)
This final report from the Pension Commission features the latest data on pensions, figures from the poll’s results from National Pension Day and the full recommendations of the Commission. The current crisis of the UK’s public and private pensions systems has prompt an important public debate. The Pension Commission’s final contribution stresses that pensions should be “more generous, more universal, and simpler.” Women and people with interrupted careers should be given special attention to prevent them from slipping into a disadvantaged position, finalized the Commission.

France: Government Will Have to Extend 2003 Pension Reform (March 30, 2006)
(Article in French)

The French Council of Orientation on Pensions released a new report projecting future deficit figures and confirming that pension reform from 2003 will not be enough to balance the pension system in upcoming decades. The Council recommends starting new reform process in 2008 saying that without new legislative changes the pension system’s deficit might reach 112 billion euros in 2050 (3.1% of GDP). When making these projections, experts depend on the return to full employment by 2015 or a growth rate at 4.5%. However, if the French economy is not as healthy as planned, pension problems will arrive sooner.

UK: Risk in Pensions Strike (March 28, 2006)
The Herald’s columnist criticizes the recent strikes against “early” retirement in Britain. This version of early retirement  allows public-sector employees in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) to retire at 60 on full pension if their age and years of service add up to 85 or more. The columnist says strikes paralyze the British economic and social network and will not win public support. Beyond comments about the strike, this column describes current pension issues and social tensions in the United Kingdom.

UK: Q&A: Local Government Pensions (March 28, 2006)
Why are British workers on strike? Given an increase in life expectancy and a balanced pension system, the British government wants to delay the age of retirement of local government workers by abolishing Rule 85. The current rule allows employees to retire earlier than 65, without penalty, if their combined age and length of employment add up to 85.

UK: Pension Plan Must Be Affordable (March 18, 2006)
The Department for Work and Pensions held various public meetings during Pension Day (March 18) to discuss the nature and implications of possible radical pension reforms. John Hutton, Work and Pensions Secretary, emphasized the importance of making pensions plans affordable and sustainable for the future. There are currently 11 million pensioners in the UK; almost a quarter live below the poverty line. Benefits for older women are usually the lowest. Pensioners fear that the proposed reforms will hurt them. Pensioners want an increase in the basic state pension. 

UK: Government Urged to Compensate Pension Funds’ Victims (March 16, 2006)
(Article in French)
A British parliamentary report stresses that the government failed to inform pensioners about the risk of losing their pension savings. Some 85,000 retirees lost a total 7.2 billion euros when the company managing their retirement savings filed for bankruptcy. The government refused to refund the losses claiming that government had provided sufficient information and that taxpayers shouldn’t pay for company failures. Although the report is not legally binding, the Parliament plans to create a special commission to review the issue. In addition, two labor unions will bring the case to the European Court of Justice.

Romania: Nearly Six millions Retirees Registered at the End of 2005 (March 15, 2006)
(Article in French)
In the last trimester of 2005, retirees represented 5.9 million people in Romania. The average monthly pension in this country amounts to $87 per recipient. This represents an increase of 2.6% over the previous trimester, the Romanian National Institute for Statistics said. 

Germany: Müntefering Unveils 50+ Work Initiative (March 8, 2006)
German Labor and Social Affairs minister Franz Müntefering is encouraging firms to increase the number of older employees by providing incentives for them to hire or rehire. Under this new reform called the “Initiative 50+,” the government will subsidize companies’ labor costs, provide funds for retraining, and exempt them from paying employment insurance for Initiative 50+ workers. Other reforms include raising the contribution to the state pension scheme and increasing the subsidy for Riester pension holders with children.

UK: Elderly Londoners Have the Worst Prospects As Capital Shuns Oldies (March 8, 2006)
London may welcome senior citizens visiting Buckingham Palace but it shrugs off its senior residents. A recent report from the London Assembly's Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee shows that the unemployment rate among older workers in inner London has climbed to twice the national average. While age regulations will come before Parliament soon, the Mayor’s office said it supported recruiting increase numbers of older workers into the London workforce.  Nevertheless, laws provide for paying persons more on the basis of age.  In response, employers hire young persons who cost less.

Belgium: Seniors Not Always Welcome (March 6, 2006)
(Article in French)

Half of Belgian companies hesitate to employ workers aged over 50 years old. They claim that older workers are not flexible enough and unable to adapt. One company out of two host workers in prepension (in part time retirement) and managers feel that in spite of the “generation pact” emphasized by the Government, prepension will be more preferred to later retirement. There is still a long way to integrate seniors into the employment market.

UK: Pension Reforms ‘May Harm Firms’ (February 20, 2006)
The Pensions Commission has suggested plans for a national pension savings scheme. Although the CBI is trying to persuade firms to follow their proposals, they are not forcing them because they think it will put too much strain on small firms and in turn prevent job creation. One of the programs that they would like to implement is the voluntary Pension Builder Scheme that would allow workers to put their annual wage increase into their savings. There are still many quirks that need to be worked out. The main goal is to insure that the maximum number of workers save for retirement with their employee and employer contributions, with the government taking an “enabling” role.

EU: The Aging of Europeans Is Reducing Economic Growth Rates (February 17, 2006)
(Article in Arabic)
In a report released in February 2006, the European Commission warned that a rapidly aging population in all 25-member countries will result in reduced economic growth rates throughout the next 40 years. Thus many member states will fail to fulfill their responsibilities regarding the distribution of pensions. The European Commission based the report on statistics showing that in the future the European Union will only have two workers for one retiree as opposed to four workers for one retiree today.

Netherlands: Netherlands Wants to Be Pension Fund Domicile (February 16, 2006)
The Dutch Central Bank would like to make the country a headquarters for pension funds; specifically for occupational pension funds. This is a great opportunity for the Dutch pension industry to move forward. In President of DNB Nout Wellink’s efforts to make Netherlands more attractive, he told the delegates, “the Netherlands not only has one of the best capitalized pension sectors in the world, it also has much experience within pension insurance.” 

UK: Pensioners Need Over £130,000 to Beat Poverty (February 16, 2006)
A recent UK report says that increased life expectancies now require retirees’ money to last longer. The report estimates that it will take £130,000 in savings as well as the government pension to support an older person until death.

France: Golden Ages for Pensions Are Over (February 15, 2006)
(Article in French)
A recent survey shows that French people increasingly believe that the golden age of pensions is over.  Sixty-eight percent think that the purchasing power of pensioners will decrease within the next years.  Half of the polled persons feel that the economic situation of older citizens is declining faster than other age categories.

UK: Raising Pension Age is ‘Unfair’ (February 14, 2006)
The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) said the government’s Pensions Commission proposal to raise the retirement age in return for a higher pension was unfair. NPC argues that it is not fair to manual workers who already have a shorter life span. It appears that the increase in the state pension age is inevitable. The government will write the final proposal paper the spring. 

France: Pensions’ Council Remains Skeptical About Later Retirement Bonus (February 14, 2006)
(Documents in French)
The French Prime Minister recently proposed increasing the pension bonus to persons who retire after 60 years old as a part of the government’s efforts to encourage later retirements. The Prime Minister asked the Orientation Council on Pensions for its opinion in the hope that the Council would agree that this bonus would produce later retirements.  However, the Council replied that such a bonus would not change the behavior of French citizens about staying longer in the workforce.

UK: Europe Accuses UK over Pensions (February 13, 2006)
Supporting a test case brought by British trade unions against the UK government’s failure to protect insolvent companies’ retirees, the EU Commission may require the British government pay a 6 billion pounds liabilities bill. The British unions are urging their government to address the issue of 50,000 British seniors who have been deprived of their full pension due to bankrupt employers.

Russia: Disillusioned With Monetization (February 10, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
A new wave of public excitement swept Russia as pensioners started to realize the consequences of their decisions. At the end of last year, Russian pensioners faced a difficult choice between preferential terms for medication or monetary compensation instead. The statistics of the Russian Pension Fund reveal that more than half of the elderly people (54%) entitled to the benefits chose monetary compensation. Now, many of those who refused the benefits regret their earlier decision. Their reasons may differ, but all of them want to rejoin the benefits system. The Health Committee of Duma is sympathetic and is now considering several amendments that would allow the elderly to re-enter the program within several months, as opposed to one year pursuant to the current law. 

Turkmenistan: Senior Citizens Protest Pension Cuts (February 6, 2006)

President Saparmurat Niyazov canceled pension payments to about one-third of the country’s pensioners and drastically cut payments to other pensioners. Upon hearing the news, older persons staged small protests over the collapse of their only source of income. During the protests, many older persons collapsed and had to be hospitalized. Officials are questioning the legality of the pension cuts. The government generally employs the citizens in the country. It is not offering new job opportunities for the retirees. Rather, it’s asking them to rely on support from their families. With the life expectancy for men at 57 years and at 57.2 years for women, and a high rate of unemployment, the ending of the pension scheme will make life for older persons very, very difficult. 

Turkmenistan: Pension Cuts Begin to Bite (February 6, 2006)
Last year the government cut pension benefits. Now the effects are starting to become clear. Earlier this year, the government denied pension checks to pensioners with the explanation that they were temporarily ineligible for their checks. They were assured that it was a temporary situation in order to fix “mistakes” in the current pension system. Until today, many have still not received a check. Some 100,000 out of 400,000 people have been completely cut out of the pension system. For those that did receive checks, 20% of their state benefits had been cut. The elderly who live in rural areas are suffering even more because they were already receiving less than $10 a month. With the pension cuts, many are having difficulty getting enough food to eat. 

Europe: US Steps Up Probe of Pension Consultants (February 6, 2006)
The US Department of Labor is launching an investigation to remove pension consultants who may be endangering clients’ retirement security for various reasons. They will review the appropriate documents and take necessary steps to have reliable consultants in an industry that depends almost solely on consultants. The Security and Exchange Commission is leading this investigation.

Germany: The Government Moves Faster on Retirement at 67 (February 3, 2006)
(Article in French)
In February the German ministers’ council decided to move up the legal age of retirement by one month per year. By 2023 the legal age of retirement will reach 67 years.  Labor minister and vice-chancellor Franz Munterfering says that a new attitude toward hiring senior workers must be created or the average amount of pensions will be reduced.  Unfortunately, at present, only one company out of two in Germany hires persons who are 50 years old or over.

Turkmenistan: No More Pensions for the Elderly (February 2, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
Pensioners are in a panic in Turkmenistan. On January 25, the President of Turkmenistan signed a new law regarding pensions. The law ends state pension support for most categories of pensioners and the disabled. As a result of the new law, the majority of elderly people lost all of their financial means for survival. Some sources say that the death rate among the elderly is terrifying, and the country’s morgues are filled with recently deceased older people. The law instigated a threat of protests, unusual for this country with a hard-line regime. The President responded by saying that pensioners and the disabled should rely on their children for support. In the absence of children, older persons must have 38 years of uninterrupted work experience to be eligible for any monetary compensation. 

UK: Fire-fighters Threaten Strike Over Pensions (January 26, 2006)
Scottish fire-fighters are threatening the United Kingdom government to go on strike if their pension benefits are cut. They have pledged to join other unions to organize a campaign of strikes in response to the government. Not only does the government want to cut the benefits, they also want to end the “rule of 85” which allows their members to retire at age 60 with a full pension if their age and years of service add up to a minimum of 85. The government’s actions infuriate the firefighters. They stayed with their jobs with low wages and a stressful environment because of the pension scheme; now the government wants to change the rules on pensions.

UK: Pension Rescue Scheme Help 13 (January 24, 206)
The Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) was set up to help those pensioners that have lost their pensions due to the collapse of their companies. It was calculated to aid 80,000 people who lost pensions between January 1997 and April 2005. The FAS will pay pensions up to 80% of what their employees had been promised. To begin, the FAS wants to target payouts to those who are close to retirement, which accounts for approximately 15,000 people. The terminally ill may claim their checks at any age. The first 13 payments were made out to qualifying pensioners in December 2005.

Germany: Germany’s Müntefering Acts on Pension Benefits (January 23, 2006)
Franz Müntefering (the new minister of social affairs for Germany) was quick to urge legislation to avoid any cuts to the state pension benefits until at least 2009. Why? If he had not acted, pension benefits would have been cut next July 1 due to the decline in wages for German workers in 2005.

UK: EU Throws Executive Pension Curb into Chaos (January 23, 2006)
The Scottish finance minister, Tom McCabe, was called on to settle the dispute for the “rule of 85;” which states that members of the local government’s pension schemes can retire at 60 years old if their age and the number of years of service adds up to at least 85 years of age. The debate that remains focuses on whether McCabe’s action conforms to the EU’s age discrimination definition or his own.

Russia – Belarus: Pension Under the Treaty (January 19, 2006)
(Article in Russian)
Belarus and Russia worked out a tentative agreement to cooperate in the area of social protection of the Union. The document will solve vital problems for over a hundred thousand people. Russians and Belarusians will benefit from the united system of pension, allowance, and compensation payments. The previous agreement regarding guarantees of citizens’ rights in the area of pension protection was based on the principle of territoriality. It implied that the country of current residence was responsible for providing social protection payments. In practice, other laws impeded such process and left many pensioners in both countries without monetary support for many months during their residence in the other country of the Union. The new treaty includes a “proportionality” principle, which takes into account the entire working period of a person and guarantees continuous pension payments.

France: Retirement and Dependence Expenditures Deliberately Ignored (January 17, 2006)
(Article in French)
The French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin wants to cap social security expenditures to a 1% increase. The Aging Insurance Fund president reacted quickly. She says the limit cannot  be met due to widespread retirements and the growth of the state’s dependent care responsibilities over the next twenty years. She pointed to the recent Cour des Comptes report on the shocking lack of appropriate policies for the dependent  elderly.  The Prime Minister’s attempt to impose austerity measures on Social Security at a time when the older French population will reach historically high numbers staggers the imagination.

UK: Critical Year Ahead for Pensioners (January 16, 2006)
Many UK employers started off the year cutting back on pensions sparking great concerns among UK workers. Although the Pensions Commission published a few reforms this past November, including a steady increase in pensions, it also pushed through a gradual increase of the retirement age when employees can access their pension savings. In April, new reforms are planned that will allow older workers to start a pension account and try to build up a decent pension also. These pensioners also will not be required to buy an annuity income with their pensions which will make pension savings look more appealing. The government wants to put responsibility for pensions entirely on the worker, not the employer or the state. Will this lead to widespread poverty in old age? Or shorter lives? 

UK: Use Wasted Billions to Reform Our State Pension (January 15, 2006)
As the UK pension system is worsens, the government is not fixing the problem with the options that they have at hand. The decline started when employees were convinced to trade in their state pension rights for private pensions that were promised to be guaranteed. The Pension Commission recognized how uncertain the reliability of the current system is but it avoided commenting on what reforms could fix the problems for fear of destabilizing the defined benefit pension scheme. For example, taxing the wealthiest at the same rate as the low income, the government could get sufficient funds to provide a decent basic state pension for all. They could take the elderly out of poverty and recognize women’s pension rights. Instead of complaining that it is too expensive and they cannot afford it, why not use the resources that are available? Is the Blair so-called Labour Government too tied to the rich to serve all the citizens?

Belgium: The Typical Belgian Rejoices in Retirement (January 10, 2006)
(Article in French)
Half of Belgians decide to retire prior to the legal age of retirement thanks to the prepension system. Belgian pensioners think that they have a higher life quality in retirement than when they were working. Two-thirds of Belgians expect their retirement  income to equal or even increase with retirement.  Many prepare by saving during their work years.  The dream for this kind of retirement may challenge the capacity of the pension system in Belgium. Nevertheless 93% of the Belgians feel they are happy or even very happy.

EU: EU Says 15 States Still Lag on Pension Directive (January 6, 2006)
September 23, 2005, was the deadline for each EU State to start implementing a pension system. However, some ten nations have not replied and the other five have given only a partial reply. This puts the commission in a difficult position. The commission needs all countries to respond to this new program. Will they cooperate and follow the deadlines in order to ensure the effectiveness of the program?

UK: Pension Fund Deficits Grow By 25% to £93bn (January 6, 2006)
It’s bad news for the 350 large British companies that have a pension deficit. The deficit was reported to have increased by nearly 25%. This increase results from a longer-living workforce, lower bond returns, and inappropriate management of pension monies in the companies. Like many other countries, British companies are freezing the pension schemes for their current members and not offering any schemes to the new workers. The workers that currently do have pension schemes are worried that their employers will turn to cheaper schemes that will not include as many benefits as they receive currently. 

UK: Thousands More Face Crisis Over Pensions (January 5, 2006)
Thousands of Britons were told that in order to maintain their promised final-salary pensions for their retirement plan, they would have to work longer and make larger contributions or else their pensions would be cut. Philip Green of the Arcadia Clothing Group (who recently got a £1.2 billion dividend last year with his wife) wants to cut pensions of his workers. Employees argue that Green’s demands are unfair since they have to work longer to keep their promised benefits and the boss gets a huge payout. The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) support Green’s decision. What do you think?

Ireland: Old Age Pension Hike (January 4, 2006)

Under the current Irish government, this New Years Day marked the second increase for the old age pension. While last year the government raised the pension by EUR 12 to EUR 179.30, this year an extra EUR14 will be added making a significant difference for elderly.

Switzerland: Firms Look To Retain Their Older Employees (January 3, 2006)
Taking into consideration that the working population will drastically decrease in the future, Swiss companies are trying to keep their older employees working till the age of 65. They have found that teams of young and older workers function better and some are even trying to revise their retirement schemes. While the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions is urging for flexible retirement from the age of 62, the government is considering pushing up the age when workers may draw out their pensions. Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin has suggested raising retirement age all the way to age 67 which the union strongly opposes. 

France: 2006 Five New Challenges For 2006 For The Year of the Papy-Boom (January 2, 2006)
(Article in French) 
More than 600,000 baby-boomers will retire this year. It also means more than100,000 jobs will end. From the point of view of the job market, many questions need to be answered. Does this mean Boomers are going to compete with one another? Is the next generation going to be as well trained? How is the “solidarity” of the French pension system going to meet these mass retirements? How are the companies going to face the changes? How is France going to deal with the “young elders”? All these questions mean challenges for 2006. 

Spain: Pensions will increase by 3,4% (January 2, 2006)

(Article in Spanish)
The Spanish government has increased retirement and disability pensions, as well as the subsidies that widows, orphans and families received monthly. Pensions are going up thanks to the Toledo Pact that assures that inflation will not affect the purchasing power of pensions. The budget this year is 1.792 million euros, from which the government will make a one-time payment to retirees of 132 euros the second week of January. Elderly people will receive a monthly a payment of 710,86 euros, which represents a 4,92 % increase. In addition, the disabled will see their pension rise by 5,57%. 
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Middle East
& North Africa

Turkey: Turkey Implements New Pension Parameters (December 18, 2006)
Since 2003, the Turkish government has established a beginning of a private system and this continues to grow considerably: the capital accumulated in the pension funds increased from $29.5m in 2003 to $1.8 billion. Now Parliament is working on bills to secure the medium-term finances. Current proposals would unify the national pension organizations, index pensions and put investment restrictions on pension funds. These changes respond to the dictates from the International Monetary Fund advice and the European Union directives.


Bahrain: Conference to Debate Pension Funds Crisis (September 13, 2006)
Several regional pension expert organizations will come together to discuss possible solutions to aiding the region’s strained pension system. Faisal Al Ainati, public relations assistant director of the General Organisation for Social Insurance, noted that previous statistics “failed to accurately predict the growth in the number of beneficiaries” and that “pension funds were not structured to handle this amount of demand on its resources.” 

Iraq: Development of the Iraqi Public Pension System (September 8, 2006)
(Article also available in Arabic)
Three years after the end of the war, the occupying Coalition Provisional Authority has to face the problem of creating a pension system. It seems that the Unified Retirement Law will be the last attempt. The Coalition decided to gather the Iraqi labor force into a national pension system; the only separation is between private sector workers (enrolled in the Social Security System) and the state employees (members of the State Pension System). See key planks of the reform at the end of the article.

Iraq: World Bank Approves Grant for Social Protection (June 9, 2006)

(Article also available in Arabic)
The World Bank and the Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs signed a grant agreement to reform the country’s social safety net and pensions programs to assist poor and vulnerable populations. The $8 million “Emergency Social Protection Project” aims to improve Iraq’s current social protection system by modernizing management and information systems. The project also intends to “develop a more equitable yet fiscally sustainable pension system.”

Morocco: Pension Funds: Restructuring for Viability (April 2, 2006)
(Article in French)
Prime Minister Driss Jettou of Morocco recently started consultations to strengthen the four funds of the Moroccan pension system. The pension crisis recently improved when the State paid 11 billion dirhams to the pension funds in order to reduce debt dating back to 1956. Experts say the system should now remain balanced until 2016-2018, instead of the original projection of collapse in 2007.

Israel: Election Gives Boost to Smaller Parties (March 28, 2006) 
In a very well-established political scheme, the recent election of Israel’s Parliament (Knesset) offered small parties an opportunity to be heard. Surprisingly enough, small groups like "Pensioners for You,” led by 79 year old Eitan Gil, disrupted the big and powerful Likud. For the first time, a party championing the rights of the elderly won “8-10 seats in parliament and has big plans for the future.” This shift provides an opportunity for senior citizens to influence Israel’s politics. 

: Pension Crisis Threatens Gulf (March 15, 2006)
Is there a Gulf Pension crisis?  At least one Western consulting firm and a number of private and public pension providers want to convince governments that pension change is required in the Gulf region.  They claim that an increased older population will require governments to cut pension benefits, add more taxes, and to make citizens work additional years in the workforce in order to provide financial and health care in old age. Like many regions of the world, people are living longer and are enjoying a higher standard of living than they did 55 years ago. The experts acknowledged that that the “corresponding problem of rising expectations is it has the real potential to create social unrest if you do not match income growth with an adequate system of provision."  Experts on the sidelines of the 10th Regional Pension and Social Insurance Conference held in Bahrain wrestled with these issues.

Saudi Arabia: Pensioners of Al Baha Leave their Region to Flee to Big Cities: Teachers Lead the Movement (February 17, 2006)
(Article in Arabic)
The cities and villages of the district of Al Baha, Saudi Arabia, are currently undergoing a noticeable demographic migration as inhabitants have headed towards other regions. It is especially true of the pensioners of the Ministry of Education and Teaching. They left to search for other fields to continue the work they still have to complete. They fled Al Baha for regions where opportunities are better. Teachers of Al Baha who ask for early retirement represent an important part of those who emigrate to the Western region, and more specifically to Mecca and Jeddah, two cities that have many incoming inhabitants from Al Baha.

Bahrain: The Pension Subscribers' Benefits Outweigh their Contributions (February 5, 2006)
(Article in Arabic)
The Pension Fund rejected most of the proposals put forward by the Council of Representatives for pensions.  Apparently the proposed system would have increased subscribers' benefits while the Pension Fund suffers from inadequate contributions to cover the current benefits. Rashid Ismail Al Meer, the Director General of the Pension Fund Authority, refused to describe the Fund's deficit as an "actuarial bankruptcy."  Al Meer pointed out that the State’s interventions had been detrimental.  He claimed that the State adopted political programs without examining the financial implications on the Pension Fund.  Some of these decisions included raising the minimum wage, linking minimum pension to minimum wages, downsizing contributions, upgrading benefits, and early retirement.

UAE: Social Care and State Responsibility (February 1, 2006)
Social Security is an international principle guaranteed by international covenants. The State honors this principle for the sake of protecting vulnerable groups in society. That is why the UAE has decided to increase the level of monthly social assistance benefiting old people. This only confirms that the UAE leadership has been assessing the needs of those entitled to such extra benefits, especially the old, so that they can meet their living costs.

Saudi Arabia: Critiques of Social Insurance Offices for Transferring Elderly to Medical Check Up to Find Out About Their Ability to Work (January 22, 2006)
(Article in Arabic)
Saudi Arabians criticized social insurance offices for transferring beneficiaries, and especially those who are more than 60 years old, to the Medical Commission to evaluate their ability to work. These transfers occurred after the offices recorded an increased number of people asking for financial aid in the wake of the announcement of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia that the Kingdom would increase social insurance funds and the amount of financial aid. For example, a social insurance office transferred Abu Muhammad, 63 years old, to the Medical Commission to check whether he was really unable to work. If he were capable of working, he will not receive any financial aid, despite his advanced age. 

Saudi Arabia : Department of Education in Riyadh begins to receive requests for Early Retirement (January 18, 2006)
(Article in Arabic)
Dr. Abd Allah Ibn Abd Al Aziz Al Maeli, the General Manager of the Education Sector in Riyadh , asked all managers of academic departments and institutions in the region of Riyadh to prepare lists of employees and professors who were born in 1947.  He also requested names of those who wrote requested early retirement and contacted them to have their signatures without delay. An Institute of Public Administration study revealed that 35% of retirees had worked for 30 years only and 3% were able to work for 40 years. The institute noted that the primary reason for retirees to choose early retirement was their desire to start a private business.

Egypt: Getting Annuities Through ATMs (January 11, 2006)
(Article in Arabic)
In collaboration with the Postal authority, the Ministry of Finance in Egypt started to convert the process of drawing retirement payments from ATM machines rather than through post offices. The project began after the Ministry of Social Insurance joined the Ministry of Finance. Dr. Yusuf Boutros Ghali, the minister of Finance and Egyptian Insurance, stated that the number of ATM machines in Egypt will increase in the near future in order to allow retirees and especially the oldest ones to get their salaries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Saudi Arabia: Female Retirees are socially Marginalized (January 7, 2006)
(Article in Arabic)
Saudi women have long specialized in the teaching field for employment.  Females do not have many choices in terms of specialties they take in universities. Therefore, most tend to choose teaching, a fact that explains the increase among unemployed females in Saudi Arabia. However, this problem may be resolved since many women who work in education choose to retire early. Why?  They retire because the working conditions are not good, because they want to build their own businesses, or they want to devote more time and care to their families


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World: Salt, Soap and Shoes for School: The Impact of Pensions on the Lives of Older People and Grandchildren in the KwaWazee Project in Tanzania’s Kagera Region (August 2006)
A review of social protection strategies in Tanzania reveals that investment in social protection and social transfers is an effective way of targeting the poorest people in developing countries and bringing more stability and dignity to the lives of older people. Universal non contributory pensions help to improve the lives of all the generations. They improve food security and the ability to meet basic needs, resulting in better hygiene, self confidence and strengthening family support networks. A universal old age pension from the age of 60 in Tanzania would merely cost 1.1 percent of GDP in 2006 values.


World: Too Many Grannies? Private Pensions, Corporate Welfare and Growing Insecurity (May 1, 2006)
More than 10 years ago, the World Bank reacted to global population aging by pushing countries to privatize their pension systems. Instead of assuring pension security issues, privatization promoted neo-liberal economic growth at the expense of many older persons. Privatization affected global capital flows, effectively achieving the goals of specific interests to liberalize markets, change state roles, and expand stock markets. This briefing critiques “justifications given for expanding private pension schemes, and analyses the motivations of the groups that perpetuate this model,” while outlining “different ways in which countries have financed both social security for older people and economic production.” 


World: The Future of Retirement: What the world wants (April 30, 2006) 
(Article in French) 
The number of people of 60 and over is increasing. According to the UN, by 2050 it is projected to reach almost two billion, or 22% of the world’s population. Increasing longevity is changing the way we live and work. HSBC and the Oxford Institute on Ageing are publishing a study to advance the global debate on maturing populations and our changing approach to ageing and retirement. By building a resource of knowledge to engage and inform people worldwide, they aim to help governments, individuals and businesses better understand the significant changes they are going to experience. The results * compare the attitudes of employers and consumers regarding ageing and retirement. It also shows that 72% of the world population is opposed to a mandatory age of retirement. 


World: IMF Sees Bird Flu Impact on Pensions Regulators (April 11, 2006)
In its 195-page Global Financial Stability report, the IMF warns about the possible impact that the avian flu pandemic could have on pension regulators. Worker absenteeism and market disruption could greatly damage the future of pension regulators, argue IMF’s experts. Market investment in pension funds has grown steadily over the years, making pension issues a central topic in financial news. 


OECD: Aging and Employment Policies: “Live Longer, Work Longer”(February 15, 2006)
(Report also available in French here)
The most recent OECD report focuses on senior employment policies and gives guidelines and an agenda for friendly employment policies and practice. The OECD urges increasing the working years as a means to meet the growth of social expenditures on older persons and to reduce the growing welfare pressure on the State’s budget. The OECD considers it only logical that the increase in life expectancy in western societies must accompany a longer working years. Nevertheless it acknowledges that a major shift in attitudes to working to an older age will be required on the part of both employers and older workers themselves. 


World: The European Commission Urges Urgent Reform in the Retirement System (February 13, 2006)
(Article in Arabic)
The European Commission has warned of a slowdown in the growth of EU economies if no urgent reforms are undertaken in the retirement systems of the EU countries.  The Commission is worried about the sharp increase in the number of old persons who are  entitled to receive retirement benefits. Didn’t the authorities see the cohorts of older persons coming for the past sixty years?  Didn’t the authorities plan for them?


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