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Pension Issues around the World


-Archives 2007-


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

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Kenya: State to Stop Free Pension Plans for all Civil Servants (December 13, 2007)
The Kenyan government adopted a new contributory pension scheme: Kenyan civil servants will have to pay for their own pensions beginning in the next financial year. The permanent secretary in the finance ministry, Joseph Kinnyuas, announced that state employees will have to participate in the fund. Rural civil servants fear this new scheme as they have only little knowledge of private investments.  Will the new program help or harm government retirees in Kenya?

South Africa: Pension Funds Time Bomb (November 18, 2007)
The recent Fidentia scandal has prompted the South African government to introduce measures to curb mismanagement in fund pensions. Pension fund expert Henry Dul says that about R75-billion in annual pension contributions by 9.2 million members is effectively placed in the hands of a few thousand people who lack expertise and training in this area.. According to Dul, South Africa’s 13,000 pension funds are managed by ‘busy or ignorant’ people who are jeopardizing the income of current and future retired South Africans.

Kenya: Kenya’s Civil Service Pension Needs Review (August 6, 2007)
Policymakers in Kenya are not sufficiently noting the problems in funding civil servants’ pensions. At present, civil servants participate in the Civil Service Pension Scheme established under the Pensions Act of the Laws of Kenya with guaranteed pension increases. It is a non-contributory defined benefit scheme. In 2006 the government tried to introduce individual contributions from the civil employees but then deferred the decision. The author argues that the government is currently facing difficulties paying pensions and that it should return to the consideration of employees’ contributing.

South Africa : Legislation to Create Single Public Service (July 30, 2007)
President Thabo Mbeki announced the creation of a single public service that would “spur economic growth toward Human development.” A program - whose name suits quite well - will help the government in this task: it’s the “Batho Pele (People First) programme”. The goal is to speed up the public services, and to improve the linkage between the authorities and the population. Tools to reach those objectives are nothing more than boosting the capacity of the post offices. However this new system won’t be created “at one go.” For example the Government Employees Pension Fund is very complex and still needs to be unified to integrate workers at the local and national level.

Kenya: Retirement Woes Mount as Workers Live Longer (June 26, 2007)
An extended life expectancy in Kenya creates a severe problem for the pension management industry. Official figures estimate that because of the AIDS pandemic someone born in Kenya is likely to die at age 49, but actuaries predict that many seniors will live up to age 78 by 2050 as a result of rising standards of living. Surveys by the Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA) found that many Kenyans will outlive their life savings. The Treasury is worried about a pension crisis because the pension bill will grow to Sh24 billion in this new fiscal year and rise at 15% annually.

Botswana: Pensions for All? Ideas on Extending Pension Provision to the Low Paid-Part 1 (May 8, 2007)
In Botswana, despite the fact that an increasing number of firms have established pension funds for their employees, pensions are still not a right for everybody. In the private sector, employers often do not cover less skilled and lower paid employees. This situation has produced a social problem--poverty in Botswana is particularly concentrated among older persons. This article reports on some issues raised by a five-yearly payout scheme—in short, recipients did not save the money. It also gives a glimpse into the system of a proper pension contribution and underlines problems with excessive administration costs.

Cote d’Ivoire: CNPS, 80 Percent of Retirees Receive their Pension Through Bank Transfers (April 23, 2007)
(Article in French)
The director of the CNPS (National fund for social provision) gives a positive picture of the pension fund’s activities. Thanks to changes adopted since 1999, the national fund can distribute 80 percent of pensions through a bank transfer. Officials now make monthly payments, instead of quarterly, preventing long lines of Ivorian elderly waiting to get their pensions. However, as the CNPS director points out, the objective is now to increase pension benefits. They represent 35-45 percent of the average income, much less than the 70 percent of the most prosperous Western countries. 

Cameroon: A Bird in Hand (April 4, 2007)
This article refers to the seminar organized last week by the Ministry of the Public Service in Cameroon. For once, the government talked about the situation of pensioners in the country, whether they are civil servants or working for the private sector. Indeed, the country has no efficient retirement policy and very few Cameroonians can claim to be retirees. Older workers face huge difficulties when they want to receive their pension benefits: among other examples, the administration can ask them for a “certificate of stoppage of duty,” a “certificate to attest that they are still alive,” or their most recent pay slip.

Cameroon: Retirement, Differently (February 20, 2007)
(Article in French)
Most African countries do not have a national pension system: the population is bound to save as much money as they can during their working life. Older workers are often not able to retire for lack of any sizeable pension. The Breweries of Cameroon prepare their employees to leave beginning at age 50. Meanwhile, the company proposes that they be trained in basic management and ways to look for financing. Besides providing pensions, this Brewery of Cameroon initiative helps to find new investors, which the country greatly needs.

South Africa: Social Security and Retirement Reform (February 2007)
In his State of the Nation Address on February 9, 2007, President Thabo Mbeki announced the need for social security reform based on a National Treasury paper. South Africa has already a “well-established occupational and individual retirement funding industry that provides protection to many, and a substantial social assistance grant program that provides income support to the poor.” But South Africa has no provision for social insurance.  Mbeki’s government plans on creating a mandatory, contributory and earnings-related system which will hopefully realize the government’s commitment to a caring, poverty-free society.

Africa: What Is the Best Way to Save Retirees from Misery? (January 16, 2007)
Like other parts of the world, African countries must organize their pension systems. Because of HIV/AIDS and the death of the breadwinners’ generation, older people are now looking after their grandchildren and have consumed whatever savings they had. The author identifies the Canadian experiences that could be implemented in Africa: either the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) or the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RSSP). One is a mandatory pension fund in which every worker over the age of 18 must contribute, as well as the employers. The other is a tax-free account in which the “individuals contribute, manage, and administrate their retirement finances as they see fit.”

Kenya: Kenyan Retirees Doomed to Poverty as Pensions Eat Up 25pc of GDP (January 8, 2007)
Some 1,352 pension schemes operate currently in Kenya. It is a reason why the country cannot pay a secure and reliable source of retirement income. A World Bank report has pointed out many of the problems facing the National Social Security Fund. It doesn’t compel high wage workers to make sufficiently high enough monthly contributions. The Fund has large administrative costs reducing the benefits that the NSSF can pay. The World Bank recommends that the country should create a fully-funded pension scheme where both employers and employees would contribute and in which benefits would be clearly defined. Alas, the article’s writer dismisses the notion of a social pension on the basis of age.


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Americas & Caribbean

Reports | Articles



Peru: Intergenerational Transfers and Demographic Transition in Peru: Remittances, Old-Age pensions, and Future Challenges (October 2007)
Family solidarity remains a traditional value in Peru. Families live together in the same house and share incomes to help children and the vulnerable elderly. But, this model faces changes due to the demographic transition and the effects of increasing migration of the young. 

Peru: Peru Starts Allowing Movement from Private to State Pensions (August 28, 2007)
After long debate among different political parties, Peru’s government finally announced that it will allow the transfer of funds from private pension funds to the state pension system. The administration of the previous president did not favor the bill, claiming it would be costly for the state. However, the current president favors the bill as he promised the pension holders back in 2006 to allow them to change plans. "I think that of the hundreds of thousands of retirees, at least 200,000 will be able to change pensions over the course of time," said the President of the nation's office of Superintendent of Banking, Insurance and Private Pensions.

Jamaica: Building a Viable Pension Sector for Jamaica (August 5, 2007)

Jamaica, a country with a population of 2.7 million, confronts the challenge of an increasing senior population. The author says that the State pension system is weak. Private pension funds, in existence since the 1940s, cover around 70, 000 private-sector workers in a 1 million total workforce. In 1966, a National Insurance Scheme (NIS) went into effect ensuring basic pension benefits to Jamaicans. Despite that scheme, only one third of older persons meet the qualifying criteria to receive the NIS pensions. The article examines some hurdles that the government must address in to secure income support for its older persons—increased longevity, informal workforce, the self-employed, regulated fund management, discipline to avoid early withdrawals, and inadequate payouts.

Chile: Report: Social Security: The Chilean Approach to Retirement (May 17, 2007)

Aging population, rising longevity, and relatively low fertility rates pose long-range financial challenges to the U.S. Social Security system. Arguing for reform, US policy-makers often refer to the example of Chile, which initiated sweeping retirement reforms in 1981 that replaced a state-run, pay-as-you-go defined benefit retirement system with a private, mandatory system of individual retirement accounts where benefits are dependent on the account balance. This Congressional Research Service report points out that while the Chilean reform has contributed to the rapid growth in the economy over the past two decades and returns on pension fund investments have been greater than expected, the administrative costs have been high and participation rates have been modest at best. There is concern that the system does not cover the entire labor force and provides inadequate benefits to low income workers.

Latin America: Pension Systems in Latin America: Concepts and Measurements of Coverage (November 2006)

Evaluators of pension systems often look at three dimensions: The first involves the extent of coverage, that is, the proportion of protected older persons. The second one focuses on adequacy or how well do the benefits meet the consumption level or needs of pensioners. Finally, the third spotlights the sustainability of the system. This report on Latin America focuses on coverage and offers helpful informational to understand pen in both the public and private sectors.




Bolivia: Bolivians Pass Dignity Pension (November 28, 2007)
On November 28, the Bolivian government adopted the Universal Old Age Law providing pensions for the elderly. Bolivian Congress Speaker Alvaro Garcia publicly announced the approval of the measure that provides 200 Bolivian pesos (about 25 dollars) per month for people over 60 years of age. After many protests and marches in support of the law, Bolivians cheered news about its adoption.

Mexico: An Embargo Will be Placed on People Owing Money to Pensions (October 25, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
This embargo will put a tough burden on the backs of workers due to the fact that there is a debt of 15 million pesos to the pension fund. The State assured that all pensioners will receive the pensions despite of the debt. Measures are underway to prevent such a debt of this size to accumulate again. 


Argentina: The Argentinean President Forces Pension Funds to Be Used in Argentina (October 19, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
The Argentine President is forcing the administrators of elder and other pensioners’ funds to reduce their foreign investments from 10 to 2 percent. Right now most of the funds are invested in Brazil, estimated at 2.515,7 million dollars. The president believes the new policy will boost the local Argentine economy. 

Bolivia: A New System of Pensions Might Substitute the Old “Bonosol”( October 14, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
The Executive Branch will present a project to the National Congress to benefit people older than 60 years old. The beneficiaries could receive 200 Bolivarianos monthly (US$26.65). The program, if enacted, would replace the “Bonosol.” 


Colombia: $543.198 Million for the 2008 Budget of the Meta Region Waiting for Assembly's Approval (October 8, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
The pensioners’ fund in the region of “Meta” is scheduled to receive 12,500 million pesos (6,119,951 US Dollars) depending on the decision of the Assembly on November 15, 2007. This decision will also mean that 34,986 million pesos would be allocated to the health sector. 

Paraguay: Pensioners from the Interior Will Claim (their pensions) at ATM Machines Starting this Month (October 3, 2007)

(Article in Spanish)
Beginning in October 2007, pensioners in Paraguay will be able to retrieve their pensions through the “Infonet” network of ATM machines. The improved accessibility of pensions will help people, especially those living in remote areas of the country. 


Argentina: It’s the Time to Receive for Grandparents (September 27, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
All elderly people from Buenos Aires province will finally receive a pension as of September 28, 2007. This change will start with those who already receive social pensions and will continue forward to benefit all elderly people.


Paraguay: The Parliament never addressed the demand for pensions for housewives (September 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
For four years, la Asociación de Coordinadoras de Amas de Casa (ACAC) in Paraguay has lobbied the National Parliament to pass a law providing housewives with pensions after 60 years old. The group, whose efforts have made little progress, consists of middle- and lower-class women who fear their opinions will be ignored as a result of their economic status. Enrique González Quintana promised four years ago, when the proposal was first presented, that he would support the efforts of the ACAC if he were to become President of the National Congress. However, after assuming the position, he has ignored this proposal, focusing on other political issues. 


Peru: ITF Waived for Food Pension Payments (September 22, 2007) 
(Article in Spanish)
The Executive Branch in Peru waived the “Financial Transaction Tax” (ITF) for food pension payments deposited into savings accounts. Those institutions depositing the payments had to also sign a sworn statement affirming that food pension funds only would be deposited in such accounts.

Ecuador: Beneficiaries of Farmer’s Insurance Give Last Ultimatum to IESS (September 12, 2007) 
(Article in Spanish)
Representatives and beneficiaries of the Farmer’s Insurance are demanding key reforms to the EISS (Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security). Most important, they want a pension increase from $3 to $21. Also, they want the EISS to pay off the debt incurred for pensioners’ medical insurance. Beneficiaries of the Farmer’s Insurance have mobilized before and are threatening to do the same again if their demands are not met.

Bolivia: Miners Armed with Dynamite Accuse Perez of Lying to Them (September 11, 2007) 

(Article in Spanish)
Retired miners in Bolivia are still entrenched in a hunger strike and threatening to blow themselves up with dynamite at the office of the Vice-ministry of Pensions. They accuse the Minister of Pensions, Perez, of lying to retired miners saying that he went back on his promise to increase pensions from $60 dollars a month to $180 dollars a month. The minister now says that giving a pension increase to retired miners would “put in risk the economy of the country” and set off an inflationary spiral. The retired miners say that they are not terrorists but rather they are citizens and forced to take extreme measures to claim what has been promised them in old age.

Paraguay: No Studies of Grace Pensions in the Parliament (September 6, 2007) 
(Article in Spanish)
The Paraguay Budget Commission archived seventy-five pension petitions because they were considered out of date. The cases will be submitted to another court where they are most likely to be cancelled, some for lacking documentation. Who suffers?

Chile: Pensioners Protest at “La Moneda” (August 28, 2007) 

(Article in Spanish) 
Directors from the “Federación Gremial de Asociaciones de Jubilados y Montepiadas” (Gremial Federation of Retirees Associations) and other retirees traveled from Valparaiso to Santiago to protest decreases in pensions. The retiree association denounced government deductions that discriminate against women who get a 40 to 50% reduction in their pensions when their husbands die. Retirees are want a readjustment of 10.6% on retroactive payments and the obligatory extension of their healthcare.

Argentina: “Increase in the Budget for Pension Payments” (August 27, 2007)
(Article in Spanish) 
The population of retired and pensioned Argentineans increased by 12.5% this year. Argentinean officials decided to increase the budget for pension payments by 44.8%. People over 75 years and anyone who can prove that they or anyone in their family has a critical illness will receive these pensions. The budget increased from 560 million pesos (177 million US dollars) to 811 million pesos (256 million dollars).

Colombia: There Are Three Million Poor Elderly Living in Colombia, and Only 2 out of 10 Who Are Sixty or Older Have Pensions (August 22, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
There are three million elderly poor living in Colombia, and only two out of ten aged sixty or older have pensions. Although upper-class senior citizens may have some form of social security, like the poor, they also consider themselves a burden to their family and are often lonely as a result. The director of the Ministry of Economic Security and Pensions, Diane Arenas, states that a national political movement on aging and old age needs to be encouraged in order to remedy these problems. 

Bolivia: “FFAA Improves Retirement Plan Though Salary Contributions of 2% (August 3, 2007)
(Article in Spanish) 
Any military official or sub official retiring next year will receive an additional pay per year as part of a military social security reform. Officials who retire after 35 years of service will receive this benefit. The reform is part of the broader restructuring of Cossmil (Military Social Security Corporation), which will also create new modern hospitals. This reform also allowed for the identification of excessive bureaucracy, unqualified personnel, low salaries, and for the new structural organization of Cossmil. 

Canada: Younger Generation Getting Retirement Message (July 23, 2007)

A survey by Decima Research shows that the younger generation of Canadians is much better prepared for retirement saving than their predecessors. The findings show that 70% of Canadians between the ages of 25 and 34 have started their savings plan. "It is encouraging to hear that younger Canadians are getting serious about retirement planning," says Mary Chan, Principal, Mutual Fund Marketing and Managed Account Program. The surveys conducted in US and UK show almost identical results.

Addressing the Aging Workforce Issue (June 18, 2007)
The Montreal Economic Institute suggests that an aging population risks lowering economic growth and wealth creation in Quebec. The Province is known for the lowest labor force participation among older persons in North America. In response, the institute suggests postponing normal retirement age to 67 and encouraging the participation of older persons in the job market. Moreover, it recommends increasing the pension plan payments by 0.7 % monthly rather than by the current 0.5 % for retirements after age of 65. This implies a reduction of payments for the retirees before the age of 65 by a similar percentage.

Canada: Research Reveals Few Employers Taking Action to Retain Older Workers (June 8, 2007)
Manpower Canada’s survey involving more than 1,300 Canadian employers found that 67% of the Canadian employers have no strategies to recruit older workers or to retain them in the workforce. Conversely, a global survey conducted in 25 countries found that employers in Japan and Singapore are more advanced in retaining older employees. In 19 of the surveyed countries, retention strategies were more common than recruiting strategies. Considering the OECD findings claiming that between 2025-2030, 12 million people a year will leave the workforce, industry must adopt measures to assure long term productivity.

Argentina: Elderly Persons Can Choose Their Retirement Plan (April 9, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
Starting on April 9 and for the next 180 days, retirees have the option to choose to have a pension from a private company or a State pension. The Argentine government says that although each system has different rules and procedures, the main difference is not State versus private operation. This article explains the differences. If you are eligible for an Argentine pension, please click here to read a guideline about deciding which retirement system is best for you. 

Argentina: New Workers Will Contribute 11% to Pension Fund (April 4, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
All Argentine workers who start on or after May 28, 2007, will be required to contribute 11% of their salary for their retirement fund, unlike current workers who contribute 7% of their salary towards retirement. This policy will reduce a potential financial crisis of funding pensions of current workers as they retire.

Argentina: Supreme Court Must Define Retirement Income (April 2, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
The Argentine Supreme Court must resolve the issue of the value of the retirement benefit. While an existing law requires a 13%-increase on retirees’ pension, it does not dictate when the increase must take effect. The Government said it will increase the pension by 13% for all of the retirees and pensioners. The defense team, however, argues that the system has no automatic mechanism to ensure that the retirement income remains proportional to the cost of living. The defense team argues that it should not be up to the Executive Branch to decide when it is time to increase the benefits.

Argentina: Now People who under-contributed can receive a pension. (April 1, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
The Government created a new system to reach people who didn’t pay sufficiently into the social insurance system over 30 working years. Nowadays, people who are 70 years old, and have at least 10 years of contributions, can retire. But also the people who paid less than 10 years of contributions into the system can retire as well. In the case of the latter, the government deducts a portion of the pension payment to be used as a “delayed” contribution toward completing their obligation. A lot of unemployed and others who worked “off the books” in the informal sector will have a chance to receive a pension payment in old age.

Peru: Peru Passes Controversial Law on Free Disaffiliation of the AFP (March 28, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
Alan García Pérez, the president of Peru, promulgated a controversial law to permit Peruvians to return to the national pension system (SNP) if they think it will benefit them more than their private pension. The government will send out details of the SNP to all workers within 90 days so they can decide which pension system would be better for them.

Argentina: Half of the Households Depend on State Income (March 28, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
A private study reveals how the government’s income distribution is disproportional. Among the poorest 20% of the population, 1 out of every 20 households receive pensions. Among the richest 20% of the population, however, 1 out of every 3 households receives the state compensation. Because more than half of the population depends on this kind of pension to survive on a daily basis, the poor will remain poor, which means a large number of elderly persons will suffer.

Mexico: Mexico's Lower House Passes State Pension Reform Bill Amid Protests (March 22, 2007)

The Mexican Senate may resist approving the lower house’s vote to change the state workers’ pension system, if the Senators pay attention to their state workers. This pension bill would compel government workers to switch from the current defined-benefits pay-as-you-go system to individual accounts with defined-contributions. Many state workers, along with legislators from the Democratic Revolution Party, demonstrated against this privatization plan. Investors, on the other hand, welcomed the possible chance to make money on public pensions.

Canada: Workers Allowed to Semi-Retire and Still Contribute to Pension (March 20, 2007)
The Harper government intends to help seniors achieve semi-retirement, at the same time helping Canadian companies that need to keep their experienced workers. This will be accomplished through a new decision allowing “employers to pay a partial pension to an employee while that same worker is also contributing to the pension plan.” Another measure will complement it: the working age limit will be raised to 71. Those changes will encourage seniors to work longer, and thus pay more taxes.

Argentina: Pension Contribution Will Increase in 2008 (March 5, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
The Argentine government plans to change its pension contribution and collection systems. First, employees will have to contribute 11% of their salaries towards the pension instead of contributing the usual 7% of their salaries. Second, employees will have a choice of which retirement plan works best for them.

Chile: Is It Possible to a Receive Pension from Abroad? (March 5, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
Many Chileans live abroad and wonder if they can receive their Chilean pensions in their host countries. Unfortunately, with very, very few exceptions, it is not possible for expatriate Chileans to receive a pension even if they have met the requirements to be eligible for pension. However, if they return to Chile, they can apply for a pension.

Chile: The Post Office Lost My Check (February 27, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
All pensioners receive their pension check by mail. However, some checks never arrive for pensioners because the postal service is unreliable. An elderly woman went to the pension office (ING) and she was not able to recover the pension that was lost in the mail unless she writes to the ING and request them to send another check. She asked to have her check put into a direct deposit account to avoid the risk of losing yet another pension check in the mail. Sadly, the ING told her that it was not possible.

Canada: Court Set To Rule on Massive Gay Class Action Suit (February 27, 2007)
Canadian courts have denied gay and lesbians the right to collect pensions that their partners paid during their working years up to the year 2000 when the government passed legislation allowing same-sex surviving partners to collect partners' pensions. However, this legislation is effective only if the same-sex partners had died after January 1998. This law provoked more than 1,000 gay men and lesbians whose same-sex partners died in the period between April 17, 1985 and January 1, 1998 to file a class action suit. George Hislop, a longtime activist who initiated the lawsuit, accused the government of discrimination by not setting the cut-off point at 1985, the year Canada extended legal rights to equality to gay and lesbian people.

Chile: No Benefits for Not Having Pension (February 25, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
The Chilean pension system failed this older woman and affected many other aspects of her life. Francisca Boetto Vargas tells a Catch-22 story about her elderly grandmother. The 73-year-old woman went to a public transportation office to obtain a half-fare smartcard. After being forced to go to four different places because no one knew how to assist her, officials told her that she had to show her pension stub to receive the half-fare smartcard. Unfortunately, the grandmother does not receive any kind of pension or financial support from the government. Therefore she is denied the half-fare smartcard and had to pay the full fare.

Colombia: University of Antioch Retirees Do Not Want to Leave (February 22, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
Older persons in Colombia found that neither demonstrations nor human rights claims could defend their right to choose where they want to go for healthcare. The Minister of Social Protection decided to deny pensioners who retired from the University of Antioche the right to continue receiving healthcare from there where they pay a small amount for healthcare. These pensioners are required to look elsewhere for healthcare services, that will cost more for services that are less adequate than those from the University.

Chile: In Order to Retire, It Is Necessary to Pay Intermediation Commissions
(February 16, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
In Chile, selecting a retirement plan that is perfect for you can be both daunting and confusing. However, it is necessary to pay intermediation commissions, that cost up to 2.5% of the premium or the pension balance of the individual. The Superintendent of the AFP, Solange Berstein, explained that it is important to keep certain things in mind when selecting the ideal retirement plan. Some items include the intermediation cost, the reference commission and insurance agents. This article explains these and other issues and how such commissions may impact each retirement plan option.

Chile: Reform Brings Drastic Flexibility to Receive Pension Earlier (February 14, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
A new reform and the creation of the common basic pension will open a window of three years so that Chileans can retire early. This radically lowers the present savings requirements for pension eligibility. This law is expected to be in effect in the year 2008 and during the first year of the law, pensioners will be required to have savings of at least $60,000, which is less than half of the present requirement of $132,000. This article explains the legal reasons behind this drastic reform and how it will impact workers and pensioners.

Mexico: Bulletin Number 0598: Closing of the Meeting on the Update in Social Security (January 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
This report sums up the social security meeting at the Mexican House of Representatives. The president of the commission, Miguel Navarro Ángel Quintero, said that changes must be made to the social security system by increasing the amount of pensions and extending what they cover, following the European models. He argues that the increase would promote economic growth. However, the president of the Federal Commission of Competition, Eduardo Perez Motta, stated that it would cost more in Latin America than it does in England and Sweden. Perez Motta made some recommendations on how to promote retirement savings, which are detailed in the report. The Secretary General of the National Union of Workers of the Social Insurance, Valdemar Gutiérrez Fragoso, pointed out that it is the government’s responsibility to protect the Mexicans’ pension and health rights.

Dominican Republic: Police Pensioners Blocked J. F. Kennedy Avenue in Response to Delayed Pension Payment (January 30, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
In Santo Domingo, police pensioners blocked the J. F. Kennedy Avenue, an important street, for not receiving their pension. They protested that the government is spending their pension money on the construction of a new metro system. Burning tires, trunks, and even a human umbilical cord, marked this chaotic street scene.

Argentina: Argentina Gives a Strong Turn with Pension System (January 25, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
Following the Chilean model, Argentina privatized its pension system in the mid-1990s. People were able to choose between a private pension system and a state pension system. However, if they chose to be part of a private pension, they could not go back to the state pension system. This year Argentina decided to experiment with some reforms to their pension system: Argentina will allow people to switch back to the state pension system in 180 days. From then on, the government will give people that choice every five years.

Chile: The Retirement Fund Administration and Social Security: Chile’s Reform Project 2006-2007 (January 16-17, 2007)

(Article in Spanish)
This report contains an array of information regarding pensions in Chile. It explores the importance of an established pension system, why the Chilean privatized pension system needs to be changed and how. Mr. Uthoff used statistics to back up his data and he uses different graphs and statistics to show how the pension system could be reformed.

Mexico: The Fight for Oaxaca is my Legislative Terrain: Gabino (January 22, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
Politician Cué Monteagudo assures Oaxacans that his legislative priorities are those concerning education, social justice, social security, respect of human rights, protection of natural resources, refunding national institutions, and regaining Mexico ’s integrity  in  international political matters. Monteagudo plans to lead initiatives to pass a State law  that guarantees pension support for older adults.  This is the starting point in his campaign that attempts to work toward peace, justice, and the development of Oaxaca and Mexico.

Colombia: The ABC of the Social Security Situation (January 18, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
The Colombian government assured they will respect the workers’ right to social security. Workers were concerned because the Colombian government was making reforms that would affect social security and healthcare. The government assured that those who are on pension will continue to receive pension and that under the new system, current workers will have a pension as well. This article explains the ABCs of the social security situation, who this will impact and in what ways.

Canada: Canada’s Pension Predicament (January 2007)
This report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business emphasizes the widening gap between public and private sector retirement pension plans. While the private sector has been moving toward defined contribution plans, the public sector has stayed with defined benefit plans that are generally considered more generous for employees. This report studies specific points that it suggests need change: early retirement, incentives to retire, pension coverage, employed-sponsored pension plans. However, as it states, “the overall objective of any policy reform would be to level the playing field between the treatment of retirement savings for public and private sector individuals,” so as to avoid subsidizing retirement lifestyles. Or do the “reformers” want to encourage a race to the bottom? 

Canada: Canadian Workers Most Worried about Permanence of Pension Plans (January 22, 2007)
The “AXA Retirement Scope” report surveyed active workers and retirees in 16 countries. It appears that Canadians worry about the future of their government pension plans. Although Canadian retirees have a high standard of living, especially thanks to an efficient health care system, they fear not having invested enough in savings. Among the already retired, some felt that their quality of life has diminished.

Dominican Republic: Pension Rejected by the Last Management (January 4, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
Senator Reinaldo Wall Perez, who is President of the Senate in the Dominican Republic, opposed the Congress’ approved privileged pension, a package given to all members of Congress upon retirement. Senator Wall Perez insisted that the Government must analyze each case carefully because there are Congressional members who do not merit the privileged pension package.

Dominican Republic: Pensioned Teachers Live with Many Calamities (January 4, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
Teachers who have spent their entire working career in the educational system retire with an income that is equivalent to between US$67 and US$200 a month. Most receive pensions closer to US$67. However, a Dominican cannot live a healthy life on that amount.

Chile: Pension Alternatives (January 3, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
Ideally, someone works for 30 to 35 years and then upon retirement, receives a stable and comfortable pension. But government pensions, particularly in poor countries, are not always reliable, so it is best to have an alternative way to save money for retirement. This article explores the two types of savings including, Programmed Retirement and Immediate Life Rent. It also shares the pros and cons of such plans and how to determine which of the two savings—or a little of both—is appropriate.

Dominican Republic: The Senate Defends Miolán’s Pension (January 3, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
The elderly former delegate of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, Ángel Miolán, receives a pension of RD$52,000 a month. Some citizens object to the amount of his pension and cited nepotism and favoritism in determining the pension’s high level. It seems such high pensions for politicans are a common practice. However, the Senate defended Mr. Miolán’s pension. Carmen Miolán, Mr. Miolán’s daughter, defended her father and stated that he deserved the pension for all the work and effort he dedicated for the government.

Uruguay: A New Law in Uruguay for Persons over 70 Years (December 27, 2006)
(Article in Spanish)
A new law took effect in December 2006 for persons older than 70 years who receive a pension of less than $4.400 (USD183.26) per month. Around 50,000 of these retired people will receive an additional $120 (USD5) per month for the next five years. Some deputies complained that this very small payment only helps some retired people. They urged that all retirement pensions be increased rather than giving this small amount to only a few older persons. 

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Asia Pacific

Reports | Articles


Japan: Aging, Saving, and Public Pensions in Japan (July 2007)
Japan’s population is aging at the fastest rate in human history and is now likely the most aged in the world. The report analyzes the impact of aging on Japan's household saving rate and on its public pension system.

China: Pension Fund Investment and Regulation: An International Perspective and Implications for China’s Pension System (November 2007)
Researchers begin this report by reviewing how OECD and non-OECD counties regulate pension funds. Next, they review the existing regulatory framework of funded pensions in China. Finally, they conduct a simple empirical study, investigating quantitatively the extent to which potential benefits could be achieved if the current quantitative asset restrictions approach in China were shifted toward a more liberalized (for profit) regulatory approach. They recommend a number of policies to strengthen the existing pension regulations. The researchers suggest removing the lower limits on certain asset classes, and permitting pension assets to be invested abroad. How will China protect its citizens from the profit-hungry middle men who are investing their pensions?

Report: China: Pension Reform in China: Progress and Prospects (2007)
(PDF format, 49 p)
China is developing the largest pension system in the world. The goal is to build a system which adapts to a rapidly aging population in a predominantly underdeveloped, but growing, economy. This paper delivers a description of the historical development of national old age insurance system in China. Subsequently, it provides a detailed examination of the pension arrangements implemented by the end of 2006. It finds that despite progress, the coverage of the system among urban employees remains low while the rural population is outside the national pension system. Finally, the paper reveals the importance of extending insurance coverage by encouraging financial commitments to the National Social Security Fund by 2015 to manage the side effects of the rapidly aging population. The reader should bear in mind that the estimates in the paper might not fully correspond to other Chinese sources.

France: Report on the Preparation of Pension Files for Civil Servants (February 2007)
(Report in French)
Civil and army pensions from the French State represent a big financial and human stake: in 2007 France will send pensions to 2 million people, accounting for 17 percent of its budget. A State-ordered audit emphasizes the atypical and inefficient management of public pensions. Because the pension amount is only calculated at the end of the career, civil servants do not get any prior information about their benefits. The report suggests that French State should “move to a type of management like pension funds” and rely on individual pension accounts.


China: Basic Pension To Increase by 280 Yuan/month (December 29, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
At present, Beijing has an accumulative pension scheme based on personal accounts in rural areas. However, statistics show that only 490 thousand out of 1.34 million eligible rural pensioners have joined this scheme. The rural pension coverage rate remains low at 37%; as few as 30 thousand pensioners are receiving payments.The average payment is around 100 Yuan. Next year, the“New Beijing rural pension scheme” and the “Beijing pension scheme for non-social-security pensioners” will be jointly implemented. Eligible pensioners will not only enjoy a personal-account-based pension, but also a “basic pension, ” that is increased by 280 Yuan/month. 

China: Closing the Pension Gap (December 20, 2007)
China’s rapidly aging society is facing several “loopholes” in the country’s infant elderly care system. The total capacity of 1.59 million beds in nursing homes can only meet 4% of the demand. Meanwhile, basic elderly care system has not extended to rural areas. Acknowledging this, the Chinese government has put a social security system in rural areas back on its agenda. It will combine home and community care with government coordination but operated under a market model. The 2020 goal is to provide seniors throughout China with a pension scheme. 

India: Age no Bar for Old Age Pension (December 18, 2007)
According to this article, corrupt politicians in India encourage pension fraud, i.e, misrepresenting one’s age when filing for pension monies. The politicians encourage persons under the appropriate age to file for a pension and then work to get the politician elected and re-elected. This corrupt practice of falsifying age is draining government funds allotted to pensions for truly “old persons.” It also makes bankers and others “co-conspirators” since they feel powerless to report the illegal act.

New Zealand: No Rise to Pension Age (December 18, 2007)
New Zealand Government is trying to adjust its pension system to meet the needs of increased numbers of older persons who are living longer. On December 17th, Commissioner Diana Crossan suggested lifting the retirement age as much of Europe has done. But on December 18th, the Finance Minister Michael Cullen said that changing the retirement age was not an option. Also, knotty dilemmas face the popular KiwiSaver program. It encourages extra savings during work years that will “top up” weekly retirement payments. However, the scheme favors richer workers and the lower- paid can’t afford to take part, with the effect of widening the gap between rich and poor in retirement.

Japan: Japan Warns of Missing Pensions (December 16, 2007)
The public pension crisis in Japan continues. The government admits losing track of pension premiums of over 8.5 million people. Officials confirm that they will make every effort to resolve the pension issue and make sure the elderly get back their pension funds by March, 2008. A dangerous situation.

China: Pension Funds Drive Asset Management Growth (December 6, 2007)
By 2050, China’s elderly population will grow to 440 million. As society ages, China will face the largest retiree population in the world. At present, China is running a three-pillar pension system. The first pillar is its old public pension provided through mandatory contribution by employees—the National Social Security (NSSF). The second is private/corporate enterprise annuities (EA)--a fully funded and voluntary contribution plan by employers. The last pillar consists of a voluntary plan, also set up by employers. With the rising demand for pensions, China is making efforts to reinforce and expand NSSF through better asset management. Through such efforts, China hopes to raise its pension assets by 23.1% between now and 2015. 

China: 240 million People Covered by Social Pension System (December 5, 2007)
More than 187 million Chinese people living in urban areas benefit from social pensions. Unfortunately, this is not the case for rural people, who represent more than three quarters of the total Chinese population. In rural areas, companies and individual workers have to pay for pension funds. A new study also reveals that the national pension fund was 631 billion yuan in 2006 and the pension payments only came to 489 yuan the same year. 

Brunei: Calls for Extension of Retirement Age (November 27, 2007)
In Brunei, there is ongoing debate between inhabitants and the government about the age for retirement. With life expectancy reaching 74 years, the issue of extending retirement age has not only been the subject of a government probe into the matter but has also sparked interest within several sections of the community as well. The increase in life expectancy resulting from advances in medicine and better living conditions have led people to believe that the current retirement age of 55 is too young. 

Hong Kong: Rally Seeks Pension System for All Residents (November 12, 2007)
In a clear mobilization effort by the elderly in Hong Kong, about 200 members of various unions marched to government headquarters “calling for the introduction of a better pension fund scheme for all residents.” Union members and older people who were present said that the current system fails to meet their needs. Recent surveys show that 76.8 percent of people interviewed believed the government should implement a comprehensive pension fund scheme. 

China: China Opening Pension Market to Expert Money Managers (November 13, 2007)
China owns 90 billions yuan ($12 billion US) of corporate pensions. The government recently issued rules governing its pension funds, paving the way to allow more select fund managers and financial institutions to help manage this large amount. Life insurers and pension firms approved by China 's insurance regulator may offer pension insurance products nationwide. Also, pension firms may help manage company pension plans nationally. The rules will take effect January 1.

Japan : Starving to Death Because of the Debt (November 2, 2007)
Hiroki Nishiyama starved to death this summer in Japan because he did not have time to find a new job. He died two months after a municipal civil servant in charge of pensions and social security stopped giving him his social benefits. He is one of the victims of the quotas policy, which encourages the state employees to reduce the number of social security and pensions beneficiaries. Japan adopted this kind of policy to reduce its national debt. Given that on November 29th, Tokyo is going to host a conference organized with the World Bank entitled ’Reduction of poverty and development strategies in the developing countries’, Hiroki Nishiyama's death is a shame.

Australia: Call to Delay Retirement Age to 67 Gets Short Shrift, For Now (October 11, 2007)
Leaders from the two major parties in Australia and a representative from National Seniors rejected a recommendation by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia to increase the age of pension eligibility. The Committee argued that raising the age of eligibility “would encourage more people to stay in the workforce and help them increase their retirement savings.” Those opposing the recommendation claim that “improvements to the superannuation system and inducements to keep working after the age of 65 were encouragement enough for people to stay in the workforce.”

Japan: Premier to Head Pension Reform Panel (October 10, 2007)
In an effort to retrieve the lost records of more than 50 million pension accounts, the Japanese national administration found a need to tackle pension issues as a whole. A council has been assigned to complete the task by the end of March. The Prime Minister will lead this council that includes the minister of health, labor and welfare, along with other government officials. Word of warning to all pension holders: Maintain your own records! 

China: Most People Worry About Finances After Retirement (September 25, 2007) 
A Chinese poll revealed last week that 9 out of 10 Chinese people are concerned about how they will financially manage in retirement. The online poll, conducted by the China Youth Daily and Sina.com, involved 3,871 people from across the country. Long Yongtu, former vice minister for foreign trade, said at a forum in the beginning of September that elderly people mustn’t rely on government to finance their retirement. However, China has entered in an aging society, as 11% of its population is currently aged 60 or above. 

India: Government Announces Pension for Elderly BPL Citizens (September 14, 2007)
On Thursday, September 13, 2007 the Indian government took action on important social decisions for a number of different issues. Among them, Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, announced the generalization of pensions for all persons above 65 years old who live below the poverty line (BPL). This scheme will benefit more than 15 million people (1.57 crore). Before this reform, pensions were only given to homeless persons. Balancing the benefit to older persons, the government will also take measures to improve the upper primary stage of education. 

China: China’ Income Security for the Elderly Cannot Depend Entirely on the Government (September 13, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
Currently China has over 143 million people aged 60 or older, accounting for 11% of the total population. It is estimated that in 2020 the elderly population percentage will grow to 17% and in 2050 to 31%. Meanwhile, China’s society is experiencing the phenomenon of “getting old before getting rich.” In developed countries, a country typically enters an aging society when its per capita GDP reaches the $5,000 to $10,000 level. However, in 2006, China’s per capita GDP is only around $2,000. Based on the experience in developed countries, it is unsustainable to depend on the government to provide income security to the elderly. Other ways of elderly support should be explored, especially commercial pensions which are expected to have a significant role in China in the future.

Shanghai, China: Tax-Deferred Pension Likely to Break the Bottleneck of the Development of Commercial Pension (September 12, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
A survey indicates that over 50% of respondents believe that investment in a commercial pension is necessary in order to keep the same quality of life after retirement. However, the development of commercial pensions face serious challenges due to issues such as currency appreciation and continued good stock market performance in China. As an alternative, a tax-deferred pension which will complete its feasibility study at the end of September in Shanghai is likely to offer a new kind of investment tool for retirement.

China: Basic Rules for Establishing Pension Management Companies in China (September 11, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
The most important characteristic for a pension management company is to provide specialized services to the corporation annuities, i.e., the second pillar of the pension system regulated by the government. Its clientele should include both mid- and small companies as well as large corporations. Both government and the private sector should contribute to the establishment of well-running pension management companies because such companies are necessary to serve the needs of the consumers and the market.

Japan: Social Security Scandal Angers Japanese (September 2, 2007)
In the second major scandal to hit the Japanese Social Insurance Agency in recent years, the “government confessed to losing track of pension records linked to an astounding 64 million claims.” With 70 million members and $1.3 trillion in reserves, the agency is one of the world's largest, but operates with outdated filing systems, instead of computerizing records. Scandals such as this erode confidence in the ability of the government to support its elders and prompted a growing number of professionals to skip the mandatory system all together.

Australia: Aussies Better Prepared For Retirement (August 27, 2007)
Recent research by Putnam Investments Australia and Portfolio Construction Forum found that Australians are better prepared for retirement than their U.S counterparts. It is common in the U.S. for people who have retired to continue working for financial reasons. The survey results show that 35% of retired Americans continue working while the ratio in Australia is only 25%. In addition, the survey found that most retired Australians continue working out of preference and not of necessity.

Sri Lanka: Contributory Pension Scheme For Migrant Workers (August 24, 2007)
The Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau agreed with the Social Security Board to create a pension scheme for the migrant workers who have been contributing to the country’s economic progress. The plan should provide monthly pension payments to the beneficiaries from age 60, and in case of the migrant’s death, pay his or her spouse and dependents. “The migrant workers undergo untold hardships thousands of miles away for the survival of their families back in Sri Lanka and make their children's lives happy,” said the Minister. Therefore, it is crucial to enroll these people in a plan that will guarantee welfare for the working migrant community.

China: Shanghai May Pilot A Tax-Deferred Individual Retirement Plan (August 21, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
Shanghai Insurance Regulatory Bureau is conducting a feasibility research project on a tax-deferred individual retirement plan, completion expected in September, and put into a pilot program in Shanghai. The retirement plan is modeled after the 401(k) plan in the U.S. However, the proposed retirement plan faces two main difficulties: getting approval from the tax department, because tax deferral means a reduction in tax revenues in the short term, and getting support from the private companies because under the plan they need to invest in employees’ individual retirement accounts, which increases their costs.

China: Five Faulty Beliefs About Income Security in Old Age (August 13, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
Many people hold faulty beliefs about saving for old age. Some believe that they have made enough money in the stock market and that they do not have to worry about saving for old age now. Some believe that the government provides social security to the elderly so that they don’t have to worry about it themselves. And others think that they have sons who should support them during their old age. However, all these beliefs are not completely correct for everyone, and may result in financial difficulties for the elderly.

Malaysia: Survey: Malaysians Indifferent about Finances after Retiring (August 8, 2007)
An alarming number of Malaysians feel unconcerned about their financial stability in retirement, say survey researchers. Only 34% of the respondents save regularly for the retirement although most wish to travel, spend time with their family and get involved with the community once they retire. "They believe that they just save as much as they can now.” said the Prudential chief executive officer Tan Kar Hor. He also mentioned that Malaysians’ rarely turn to financial experts to plan their retirement. The survey raises a question: Will Malaysians have sufficient savings to cover their expenses when they retire?

China: Audit of 35 Billion Yuan Rural Pension Funds Begins (August 2, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
By 2006, China had 1,905 counties that had adopted the Rural Social Security System with over 53 million participants and over 35 billion Yuan funding. As the first step to the rural pension system reform, the National Audit Office started a nationwide audit of rural pension funds. This audit is expected to take 4 months to complete, ending in November.

China: Paying Pension Taxes for Years, but No Record Found in the Computer System (July 31, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
In 2004, Ms. Wang from Anqing City, Anhui Province, found out that the Social Security Department’s database did not have her record despite the fact that she had been paying pension taxes for three years. Moreover, she found that the ID number was entirely wrong on her pension statement and invoices for the pension tax payments. In order to correct this, Ms. Wong went to the city’s Labor Management Center and Social Security Department a dozen times. After 2 years’ work, she finally got the information corrected.

Australia: Food and Heating Hurt Elderly the Most (July 31, 2007)
Australian pensioners are facing a financial shortfall as food, utilities, and healthcare, all of which are major expenses for retirees, have sharply increased in price. Moreover, the Australian Families Association reports that many pensioners are giving the bulk of superannuation payments to their children to help them buy property or pay for their grandchildren’s child care. As a result, pensioners are rapidly draining their life savings, and these cost pressures could even “compromise [older persons’] nutrition.”

Japan: Japan’s Pension Scandal Becomes a Political Battle (July 23, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
The scandal in Japan’s pension management has become the biggest political issue in Japan’s election. The changing population structure has provoked this crisis in the penson system. Although the current debate on pension system has not produced a pension system change, Japan’s population structure seriously challenges the existing pension system. It is estimated that by 2010 Japan will start to have a decrease in its total population and the younger population will decrease rapidly. If the pension system continues to operate as it is, Japan’s pension system will be unsustainable in the near future.

Japan: Government panel backs revised pensions in 15 cases (July 14, 2007)
A government appointed panel decided to apply specific standards to correct numerous pension record-keeping errors by the Social Insurance Agency (SIA). The panel has chosen to examine 15 out of 284 cases in which individuals claim they paid premiums while SIA has no record of payment. The panel concluded that the pension records should be corrected in the 15 cases. The guideline published by the panel on Monday also promised to accept claims without tangible proof of paid premiums if they seem to be reasonable.

China: A Temporary Laborer Won His Case Over Pension Contribution (July 3, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
Temporary labors are often excluded from fringe benefits, pension, and medical insurance. On June 21, 2007, Xiaoxian Gong, a temporary laborer who got fired after 4 years of work, won back his pension and other benefits in a lawsuit against his previous company. He was hired as a temporary laborer in Gansu Chinese Medical Hospital in 2002 and got fired in 2006 without any legitimate reasons. As the hospital did not give him any financial compensation as it fired him, Mr. Gong started a lawsuit in 2007. After several appeals, he not only got financial compensation but the hospital is required to contribute to the pension system for Mr. Gong for the 4 years he worked at the hospital.

China: One-Hundred Thousand Farmers Without Land Receiving Pension for Town and City Residents (June 21, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
With urbanization, the Zhejiang Provincial Government stipulated clearly that all governments should make efforts to protect the rights of farmers who have lost their land. Wujing district government provided pension coverage to these farmers and raised the minimum pension payment from 200 Yuan to 500 Yuan per month, which successfully solved the income security problem for the elderly farmers without land.

China: New Pension Policy in Guangzhou (June 21, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
The Guangzhou Municipal Government has recently passed a new pension policy which makes a series of changes over the existing pension system. The policy will bring changes to the pension tax, rate, payment etc. This new policy also specifies ways to compensate those who will experience a loss under the new pension system.

India: 106 Year-old Gets Revised Pension after Wait of Eight Years (June 19, 2007)
In India, a 106-year-old veteran from World War II finally received a revised pension appropriate to his rank after years of battle with local officials. The government welfare officer said that defense personnel from other states should also complain to get their pensions. He added that pension related problems are often due to administrative issues, absence of relevant information and lack of communication between the regulatory bodies.

China: Farmers’ Pension Fund Lost 250 Million Yuan (June 18, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
From 1996 to 2004, the farmers’ pension fund of the Four Season Town, Haiding District, Beijing loaned accumulatively 250 million to Beijing Da Di Technology Inc. In March 2007, Da Di Technology Inc was unable to repay the loan due to the company’s financial difficulties and the farmers in Four Season Town are facing the problem of not receiving pension payments on time.

Australia: Government Reaps Millions from Elderly (June 11, 2007)
According to Aged Support, hundreds of Australians who work beyond retirement age in return for a pension bonus worth up to $32,000 die before they get the benefit. The work-till-you-drop policy has saved the Federal Government tens of millions of dollars in pension payments, but left it severely embarrassed. The Community Services Minister now promises to change the law that prevents spouses of elderly workers from claiming the bonus owed to their dead husband or wife.

Singapore: Elder Workers in Singapore Suffer From Neglect (June 1, 2007)
(Article in Arabic)
At a recent meeting that brought together the public and private sector in Singapore, a senior official for a Singapore company said that the state must rethink the ways in which it goes about hiring elder persons. The current law on employment in Singapore will be renewed in 2012. Officials expect it will offer provisions for the employment of elder citizens, should they wish to leave retirement and re-enter the work force.  In the meantime, the Singapore government hopes to partner with the private sector on the rights of elder persons in the workplace.

Japan: Japan Worried about its Elderly Population; Resorts to Women and Older Persons to Fill the Gap (May 17, 2007)
(Article in Arabic)
Japan is worried about its aging population; many have said that it might not be able to maintain its production levels if younger persons do not enter the workforce. In an effort to circumvent a drop in production levels, more and more Japanese companies are hiring older workers, or retaining them for longer periods of time. Older workers say they are happy to work as long as they can, and managers say that older workers are actually more productive than their younger counterparts. The government has also increased the age of retirement from 60 to 65. “There are four solutions to our lack of workers in Japan,” said one company president. “We can hire elder persons, women, or foreigners. After that, the only solution we have available to us is robots.”

Taiwan: The Government Wishes to Pass its New Law on Pensions Quickly (April 24, 2007)
(Article in French)
A Chinese newspaper revealed a plan to change the Taiwan pension system. The project specifies that “persons over 65 years old, who have paid contributions for at least 40 years, will entitled to a monthly pension of NT$ 7603 (about US$ 265).” The law would also help people that are not covered with private insurance. The government would pay a portion while private funds would finance the remainder. The government spokesperson, Mrs. Chen, announced that the government will not increase the social funds as long as the new pension system is not implemented.

Philippines: Arroyo Asks SSS to Hike Pensions By 10% (April 19, 2007)
Filipino President Macapagal-Arroyo proposed to raise the pension of SSS (Social Security System) by 10 percent, only few months after already increasing it. To finance such a proposal, she called for the generosity of employers’ confederations. She’s also planning to activate some 200,000 SSS accounts in order to receive more contributions; among others the President asked the SSS to increase the coverage of overseas workers, especially those living in the US.

India: Micro-Pension Efforts (March 26, 2007)
Members of a Self-Employed Women Association launched a micro-pension initiative one year ago. Other cooperative banks followed this example and created pension funds that will take contributions from self-employed and especially women. Micro-pension funds invest their contributions and give back their benefits beginning at the age of 58 years. Particularly efficient in rural areas, the micro-pension system encourages women, who are marginalized, to “start entrepreneurial projects.” 

China: Provide Income Security to the Chinese Elderly (March 16, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
As China has become an aging society, it faces the challenges of ensuring every Chinese elder person with a happy life in retirement. During the sessions of National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), many representatives expressed their concerns over the elderly income security problem. The representatives proposed expanding the pension coverage to the rural areas as well as supporting many channels to give income support to urban older persons.

China: Establish a Pension System that Fits the Needs of Migrant Farmers (March 8, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
As more and more farmers migrate into cities and become the “rural workers,” they need some pension coverage, an issue that has caught the attention of policymakers. During the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Li Zhenya, a CPPCC committee member, proposed establishing a pension system that fits the needs of the migrant farmers. Meanwhile, Sun Jie, a professor at Economic and Trade University submitted a similar proposal titled “Suggestions to Establish a Pension System for Migrant Farmers”. Both proposals suggest a pension system with individual accounts instead of pooled accounts. In order to benefit fully the migrant farmers, the pension system should attempt to use a low tax rate, to have wide coverage, and to be easy to transfer among different regions.

China: China Needs to Establish a Survivor’s Pension Insurance System (March 7, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
According to Pei Xiaomei, Professor of Sociology at Tsinghua University, China should establish a survivor’s pension insurance system soon in order to provide old age income security to the elderly who are not covered by the current pension system due to their insufficient working years and contribution to the pension system. In China, the older persons constitute a large proportion of the population living in under poverty. And among the impoverished elderly, elderly widowed women with no income need the most attention. The current social security system does not provide effective protection for the widowed elderly with sufficient income security.

China: Fair Pension (March 7, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
The National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) accepted the proposal titled “Fair Pension” for discussion proposal for the first time in history. “Unfair pension” as a social problem refers to two issues. First, it comments on the huge difference in pension levels between retirees from government agencies and retirees of enterprises. Second, it also refers to the fact that a large part of Chinese citizens have no coverage in the national pension system. For instance, 900 million farmers are still not included in the pension system. The Chinese government must resolve how it will deal with the disparity in pension coverage for all its citizens.

China: Pension Can Differ by Eight Times (February 28, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
China’s pension system lacks equity due to the huge difference in pension levels depending on which region the retirees have worked and whether s/he worked for government agencies or enterprises. Therefore, the National People’s Congress (NPC) is going to discuss the proposal of a pension system managed at the national level. This proposal suggests resolving the disparities in the pension system with structural adjustments in the system. The proposal suggests managing the pension system at the national level, increasing the pension of enterprise retirees, and adjusting pension levels to reflect a fair system.

India: Government Likely to Create Pension Fund for Unorganized Sector (February 22, 2007)
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced last month “the need for a comprehensive pension system for workers in the unorganized sector” because, until now, only government workers benefit from old-age coverage. The parliament will present a bill on “Unorganized Workers’ Social Security,” setting up a national pension fund for unorganized workers, i.e., 93% of the Indian labor force. However, details about contributors, implementation and modalities of payment still have to be determined.

China: Yun Nan Province Combines Home Elderly Care with Social Elderly Care 
(February 8, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
On February 7, 2007, Yun Nan provincial government signed into law Yun Nan’s 11th Five-Year Plan for the Elderly, which requires establishing an elderly care system that combines social service with home care. According to the Plan, Yun Nan provincial government will increase the funding towards a social pension system, establish a service system that accommodates both home care and institutional care for the elderly, facilitate the expansion of infrastructure that benefits the daily life of the elderly, and promote the formation of an “elderly industry” that provides products and services geared towards the special needs of the elderly.

China: Shanghai Will Establish a Pension Company to Manage Corporate Annuity Fund (February 3, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
A Shanghai Regulatory Commission spokesperson stated yesterday that a pension company will be formed very soon. This company will manage the private enterprises’ annuity fund that is currently managed by Shanghai Corporate Annuity Fund Development Center. Several banks, financial institutions and insurance companies have showed interest in participating in the to-be-established pension company.

China: Pension to Be Fixed for Its “Differential Treatment by Gender” (February 3, 2007)
(Article in Chinese)
During this year’s session of CPPCC (Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference), the Shanghai Women’s Federation submitted a Draft Resolution regarding Eliminating Pension Gaps by Gender, which received much attention. The difference in pension by gender has gradually become a sensitive topic among retirees and the public. Men tend to have a larger pension than women even if they have a similar education background and the same years of work experience. This gap by gender is largely due to the difference in the stipulated retirement age between men and women. The retirement regulation, passed into law over 60 years ago, requires men to retire at age 60 while women retire at 50 or 55, depending on the nature of work. This regulation leads to shorter years of work experience for women, and hence a smaller pension.

New Zealand: Kiwis Still Stalling on Retirement Plans (February 1, 2007)
While the “AXA Retirement Attitudes” survey shows that only 72% of New Zealanders have started to save money for their future retirement, New Zealanders are confident that they’ll have a sufficient retirement income. The survey confirms many problems for their future: New Zealanders don’t realize they must save for their future retirement. The Kiwi system is not mandatory--consequently many don’t save for their retirement years. Some expect the government to restructure the retirement scheme; others don’t understand the existing system; most are ignorant about the “KiwiSaver,” a government workplace savings program. 

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Europe and Central Asia

Reports | Articles


Sweden: How They Have Fared in the Roller Coaster Ride through the Past Decade and a Half of Deep Recession and Economic Exuberance (December 2007)
The study investigates how the economic well-being of older people in Sweden changed since the country’s deep recession in the 1990s.  How did the economically unstable period affect the income of elderly citizens compared to the total population? How did income inequality among older persons develop?  The report also includes data on the trends in older people’s income starting in 1975.

United Kingdom: 2007 Review and Pension Trends Survey Report (December 2007)
The Association of Consulting Actuaries’ survey suggests that employers have little confidence in the UK Government’s pension reforms, believing they will level down pension contributions per employee.  This survey report presents profound data information on pension trends in the UK in 2007. 

European Union: Pension Systems, Ageing and the Stability and Growth Pact (November 2007)  
This paper explores how the Stability and Growth Pact (part of the EU treaty which regulates against running deficits and issuing debt) will cope with the future costs of population ageing in the European Union. Obviously, population ageing has forced countries to reform their pension systems and will continue to do so, both by reducing the generosity of pension arrangements and by switching to funding rather than relying on pure pay-as-you go pension provision. These reforms will affect adherence to the Pact; in addition, the Pact may induce or hamper incentives for reform.  A simple model is calibrated for addressing intergenerational equity.  


France: Eligibility Requirement for Retirement Programs in France (November 2007)
This graphic depicts the current pension system in France: for general regime (in both public and private sectors) and for ‘special regimes’ (reserved for several national companies such as railway or gas companies). In November the government wanted to reform this system, but many strikes dissuaded it from promulgating a general pension law. Now negotiations will happen one company at the time. The French government still has the goal to remove the ‘special regimes’ and unions say they are open to discussion.

Report: United Kingdom/US: The Effect of Retirement Incentives on Retirement Behavior: Evidence from the Self-Employed in the United States and England (September 2007)
This report examines “how public and private pension and health insurance systems affect the retirement transitions of self-employed older workers compared to wage and salary workers” in the US and England. This study documents that wage and salary workers leave the labor force earlier than do self-employed workers. Why? Because they have some retirement income due to “defined benefit pension incentives” contained in public and private pension systems.

Report: The Transition of Women and Men from Work to Retirement (August 3, 2007)
(PDF format, 8 p) (Also available in French)
The official retirement age rests at the same level throughout most European countries, ranging from 60 to 65 for women and 62 to 65 for men. Nevertheless, the age at which Europeans leave the labor market varies significantly across European Union (EU). Statistics show that the age of withdrawal in different European countries is below the official retirement age. The following report tries to estimate the median age of retirement in EU and difference in retirement trends between men and women in Europe.

United Kingdom: Report: Working Hours Flexibility and Older Workers' Labor Supply (July, 2007)
(PDF format, 52 p)
The following paper examines the presence of the hours constraints in the UK labor market and their influence on the supply of older labor force. Basing on the 1991-2004 data, the findings indicate that over-employed male workers can reduce working hours with their employer before their retirement. Nevertheless, the findings show that over-employed women generally leave the labor market as a consequence of hours constraints. More importantly, this paper discovers that even though more flexibility in working hours may raise labor participation among older women, it will not largely affect the total supply of the older workforce.

United Kingdom: 2007 Pension Trends Survey Report (May 31, 2007)
(PDF format, 33 p)
The Association of Consulting Actuaries’ (ACA) 2007 Survey on Pension Trends questioned over 330 UK employers, with scheme assets of more than £127 billion and 2.1 million members. The surveyors discovered that the majority of UK employers expect that pension policy reforms will cause a leveling-down in pension contributions and an increase in scheme closures. The employers worried about whether the Government policy would effectively promote occupational pensions. Furthermore, the report discovered that almost 40% of small firms will likely leave the current pension schemes and reduce existing benefits to lessen the extra costs of personal accounts. These findings call for policy changes to provide better financial incentives to encourage pension saving and promote risk sharing schemes in the UK.

England: Pensioner Poverty over the Next Decade: What Role for Tax and Benefit Reform? (July 2007)
(PDF format, 117 p)
Researchers look at potential poverty among pensioners in England over the next ten years, using a number of different tax and benefit policies. The study tried to model future demographic structure and incomes of individuals aged 50 and above, simulating their future mortality, health, receipt of disability benefits and labor market conditions. The experts applied various tax and benefit systems to the simulated population to test their effects on the net income and pensioner poverty. The report writers’ argue that the government should ensure complete take-up of means-tested benefits to rescue millions of older British people from impending poverty.

Russia: Food Rich in Protein Strengthens the Muscles of the Elderly (July 15, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
Foods rich in protein stimulate muscle growth in older people. Diet containing a moderate amount of protein may slow down the age – related reduction of mass of muscles. According to a recent research, the quality of life of the elderly largely depends on the strength of the muscles. As a consequence of the muscle weakening, the majority of the elderly do not fully recover after severe traumas. The statistics show that the seniors usually eat less protein than is recommended by nutritionists. The latter occurs for a variety of reasons, one of which is the high cost of protein rich products.

Eastern Europe/Former Soviet Republics: FROM RED TO GRAY, The “Third Transition” of Aging Populations in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (June 20, 2007)
(PDF Format, 272 p.)
According to the World Bank’s report based on research carried out in 2005, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union will be among the oldest populations in the world, due to a decline in fertility and increasing life expectancies. One person in every five in most of the region’s countries will be over the age of 65. Consequently, the report recommends that governments undertake measures to prevent an economic downturn and fiscal instability. The Bank suggests policies to strengthen pension systems and to stimulate productivity and labor force participation.

Germany: The Victory of Hope over Angst- Funding, Asset Allocation, and Risk-Taking in German Public Sector Pension Reform (April 2007)
In many rich countries, public employee retirement systems operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. Current workers pay taxes that support retired workers. Unlike the past, retirees now live much longer and there are fewer younger workers entering the labor force. Look at Germany. With a high unemployment rate, some young Germans can’t find jobs and therefore cannot pay taxes to support retirees. In this situation, some experts argue for a pre-funded pension system. This report examines the risks and rewards of a pre-funded pension system, projected over the next 50 years. 

France: Informative Report on the Improvement of Transparency Regarding Pensions and Incomes in the French Overseas Territories (March 13, 2007)
(Report in French)
The French government ordered this report on the situation of French civil servants who live in overseas territories who are often accused of receiving too many benefits.. However, this report had to avoid stereotyping the situation. Today, most of these territories face economic crisis. Residents face more expensive living conditions and real estate than the average people in metropolitan France. Concerning pensions, the report proposes to limit them at the current level to reduce the gap in living standards between retired top civil servants and retirees originally born overseas.

France: Three Plans of Action (January 2007)
This graphic depicts the different ways to reach financial balance in the pension system in France by 2020. There are three different policy choices: lower the pension rate (abscissa), raise taxes (ordinate) or raise the retirement age (oblique lines). The different points on the graphic form a balanced situation. For example, the X point depicts a balanced point. Here the pension situation would be balanced and sustainable.  

Europe: Report: Mandatory Employer Pensions in Ireland, Germany, and the United Kingdom (January 2007)
This AARP paper describes Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom’s mandatory employer-based 401(k)-type pension plans as a possible model for the US so that pension coverage and retirement savings can be increased.

Germany: Silver Workers: An Empirical Study of Post–retirement Activities, Economic and Voluntary Work of Retired Staff (2007)
In this study, the Geneva Association examines active retired Germans aged 60 to 85. The authors explain the reasons, motivation, and ideal conditions for working in old age. The report finds various reasons for retirees to engage in post-retirement work, such as financial need, social contacts and continued personal development. The implications for greater engagement require rethinking social security systems as well as ways to integrate older employees into companies and assure their human rights. 


France: "Making ends meet” with small pensions (December 19, 2007)
(Article in French)
Some retired persons in France try to survive on 500 euros per month. This article includes the testimonies of five elderly people. Many live alone and find it difficult to make ends meet. Healthy, they sometimes try to find a job to pay the bills. This is a disturbing reality that the government must take into consideration as the debate around pensions becomes increasingly hectic. 

Belarus: Social Benefits Cancelled (December 18, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
Belarus has cancelled some important social programs for pensioners including discount medicine purchases, dental care and public transportation benefits. Only those citizens with an income lower than $86 per month (a monthly living wage in Belarus) will continue to receive the benefits. 

Bulgaria: Finally, the Age of Retirement Is Not Going Up (December 15, 2007)
The Bulgarian government is looking for ways to reduce the deficit in the pension system. In 2000 when the new pension system emerged, the government banned older persons from working in the paid laborforce. However, many older workers wanted to stay on after retirement age in order to have a larger pension. But many Bulgarians don’t believe it’s fair to receive both a pension and to contribute to the fund with the promise of getting a higher pension. However, the workforce population is becoming smaller and older workers may be needed to fill jobs. At present, Emilia Maslarova, Minister of Labour and Social Policy, says that older persons may work longer to earn more money and she affirmed that the retirement age was not going to be raised in the near future.

France: Strike Plans Fizzle in France (December 12, 2007)
Strikes focusing on pensions have almost ended in France after ten days of demonstrations in the capital. Unions canceled their strike appeal on Wednesday and Thursday. The government accepted the proposal to negotiate with one company at a time and unions said they were ready to negotiate. Many critics worry about an end to adequate income protection for French retirees and further erosion of labor protection throughout the economy.

Greece :  Greek Unions Call 24 hr Nationwide Strike Over State Pension Reforms (December 11, 2007)
Greek unions are holding a 24-hour national strike to protest the government’s pension reforms. Workers fear that the government will raise the retirement age and cut pension benefits. Both civil and private sector employees will participate in the strike. Transportation networks will not operate during the strike.

Russia: Russia Spends Stabilization Fund on Pensions (December 11, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
Vladimir Putin says that Russia will start spending its Stabilization Fund capital on pensions and innovation projects next year. The balance in the reserve fund has reached its optimal level, allowing it to cover the Pension Fund's deficit and improve the welfare of the people. At the present moment, the Stabilization Fund capital equals $144.43 billion dollars. Analysts report, however, that Putin's announcement of the investment might negatively influence the oil share market. 

United Kingdom: New Pension Plan for all Workers (December 5, 2007)
The British Government is organizing plans so that everyone can enroll in a pension plan. This new bill which will receive its first reading in Parliament contains several major changes: workers would be automatically enrolled in the company pension scheme. Employers would also have to match 3% of their staff’s pay and put it into a pension. Moreover, the bill would introduce personal accounts for low and middle income persons. 

Russia: Base Labor Pension Increase in Far East (November 29, 2007) 
(Article in Russian)
The Russian government increased the base labor pension allowance in Primorye, in the Far East region of Russia, starting December, 1, 2007. The government increased the base pension level by 300 RUB and by 600 RUB for the older persons over 80 years. According to the report of the Russian Pension Fund, invalids, the Great Patriotic War soldiers, and the aged who were involved in the Leningrad blockade will also receive an increase in their disability pension ranging from 150 RUB up to 900 RUB. 

Greece: Greek Journalists Strike Over Pensions (November 27, 2007)
Greek journalists went on strike November 27 to protest proposed new pension reforms. Unions fear the government could cut pension benefits in the future and increase the age for retirement. A third round of negotiations on pension reform is due to begin November 28.

France: Social Conflicts : Unions and Government Stay Firm (November 13, 2007)
Strikes against the ‘social regimes’ reform in France have been extended. Seven railway workers trade unions instituted a new strike against SNCF, the first railway company in the country, beginning November 13, 2007. Some workers from the RATP (Parisian subway company), and EDF GDF (gas company) are also on strike. The general secretary of CGT, Bernard Thibault, reaffirmed that the problem was caused by the proposed special pension changes. According to Thibault, previous negotiations with the companies are now worthless.

France: French Government to Discuss Pension Reform with Unions, State Companies this Week (October 21, 2007)
Strikes were called in France on Thursday and Friday last week to fight against proposed pension system reforms. The government wants to end by 2012 an arrangement that allows all workers, even in certain state sectors, to draw a full pension after 37.5 years of contributions, bringing them into line with the 40 years required elsewhere. Labor minister Xavier Bertrand will meet with unions and some state-owned corporations this week to discuss the reform. However, for him, 'the target of moving 37.5 years of retirement contributions to 40 is not negotiable.'

France: Dependency: a report for a single benefit for elderly people and disabled persons (October 17, 2007)

(Article in French)

The French National Fund for solidarity and autonomy proposed, on October 17, 2007, to set up a single pension for older and disabled persons. This text synthesizes the French State 's interests as well as organizations that defend the rights of older and disabled persons. Nevertheless, the report doesn’t specify how this measure will be financed, whether by the public or private sectors. Head of State Nicolas Sarkozy has already announced himself in favor of adding individual private accounts for income in old age. 

France: French Government is Expecting a Difficult Social Week (October 15, 2007)

(Article in French)
Demonstrators will be out in force against the Fillon’s administration and its proposal to change the “special regime” pensions beginning Thursday, October 18, 2007. Trade Unions are asking for protection of the ‘special regimes’ pensions and the protection of the general pension system. Some unions argue that these two focus on the same general issue. Others say that they are two distinct claims because each concerns a different category of the French population. 


France: Special Pension Regimes : Xavier Bertrand Wants Workers to Contribute for 40 Years (October 10, 2007) 

(Article in French)
On October 10, 2007, French Trade Unions learned about the Sarkozy government’s changes in their “special regime” pension system. Between now and 2012, the 500,000 workers who benefit from “special regimes” will have to contribute toward their pensions for 40 years instead of 37 and a half years that was in force until today. The French Government announced that this measure wasn’t negotiable, and introduced a financial penalty in case of early retirement as well as a financial reward to those who take a late retirement. 

Europe: EU Executive Backs Down on Pension Mobility Plan (October 10, 2007)
On October 10, 2007, the European Commission adopted a measure to make it easier for workers to take their private pensions to a new employer. This measure is a new step toward making the labor market more flexible so that workers won’t be stopped by administrative barriers. The EU wants to boost competitiveness by encouraging people to move between jobs. The EU Assembly must now approve it at a final reading. Will this policy make old age more or less comfortable for those now in the European workforce? 

Italy: Referendum On Pension (October 8, 2007)

(Article in French)

From Monday, September 8th to Wednesday, September 10th, 2007, thousands of Italians will vote for or against the pension agreement, concluded between the trade unions and the Romano Prodi administration. This vote will show the level of popular support for this measure but has no juridical standing. Some 15 million workers, unemployed persons and retirees are concerned about the outcome.

Ireland: Our Pension System is a Failure, New Study Claims (September 28, 2007)
The new book, “Choosing Your Future: How to Reform Ireland’s Pension System,” attacks the system of private pensions in Ireland. This book was published by TASC, a think tank which works for equality and social justice. Ireland has the highest rates of pensioner poverty in the European Union. According to the authors, the private pension system is costly and too risky for vulnerable people. Middle and low earners can’t afford them.

France: Pension Reform Awakes Trade Union’s Anger (September 26, 2007)

(Article in French)

By suggesting changing the ‘long career measure,’ on September 25, 2007, François Fillon challenged the French trade unions. The measure would end the policy of permitting workers who began to work at ages 14, 15 or 16 to retire earlier. Fillon wants to change this law because of its financial cost (2,2 billions euros in 2007). François Chérèque, general secretary of the French main trade union CFDT, is opposed to this change.

France: Social Security: First Action Before the Financial Restructuring (September 25, 2007)
French social security will face a 12.7 billion euro deficit in December 2007. Nicolas Sarkozy and his government plan to balance social security account by 2012. The plan’s main change focuses on cuts to health insurance (1.7 billion of savings). Savings on pension are also planned: the government wants to discourage early retirement. Concerning older people, the government wants to encourage creation of more nursing home, including nursing care. 

France: Why is the Reform of Social Pensions So Important? (September 2007)

(Graphic in French)
There are several kinds of ‘special’ pensions in France that have come under fire in the new government.  This study focuses on five of them. In the gas and electricity industries, in 2003, there was 1,14 times more contributors than pensioners.  But in 2020, according to this graphic, there will be more pensioners than contributors. Contributors will be 0,81 times less than pensioners in this field. In some sectors like mines; in 2020, there will be only 3000 contributors for 199,000 pensioners.  Some claim that this situation is unsustainable. But are they looking at other possibilities for keeping the State’s funding promises, such as slightly higher social taxes or other forms of payments?   How does a country review fairly all pensions, private and public?

Czech Republic: Czech Old Age Pensions to Slightly Increase (September 24, 2007)
Will increases in pensions keep up with other costs to Czech elders? Old age pensions in the Czech Republic will increase by 346 crowns (roughly $17.70) monthly on average as of next year. The Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Petr Necas, claims that this increase is sufficient to support the needs of the elderly. “However, the opposition and trade unions say the planned increase is too low as it will not even compensate the impacts of the government public finance reform, including raised VAT tax on food, medicines and public transport.”

France: Work in Old Age, No Thank You! (September 17, 2007)
(Article in French)
French trade unions are already preparing for a strike to fight against changes in the ‘special regimes.’ In this article, some railway workers reveal that they chose this occupation because of the pension benefits. If they had known they would have had to work longer, they wouldn’t have taken this job thirty years ago. 

France: Clash Expected Over French Pensions (September 13, 2007)
In early September French President Nicolas Sarkozy prepared to change the ‘special regimes’ pensions granted to workers in certain state-owned companies, such as railway operator SNCF and utilities EDF and Gaz de France. Next Tuesday, he will have to explain the change in the French retirement policy to the trade unions, and first of all to the CFDT, which is already preparing for a strike. This issue re-launches the debate about how to manage the French pensions as an increasing number of persons retire.

Lithuania: Elderly Go on Hunger Strike Over Pensions (September 12, 2007)
Over the last couple of years, the Lithuanian government overhauled the state pension system because of financial strains. Many workers that are now retired lost their pension benefits as the changes posed strict limits on pension and disability benefits for workers employed after 2001. A group, the Lithuanian Pensioners’ Movement, has held a hunger strike urging Parliament to approve new legislation giving them access to years worth of unpaid worker’s pensions. 

UK: Pension Payouts Could Depend on Postcode (August 30, 2007)
A UK insurer plans to use postcodes to calculate pension payouts when setting annuity rates. Currently the main criteria are age and sex to determine payout levels. Since postcodes are already used to price other financial products, insurers want to incorporate this information into life expectancy. Researchers found that the place of residence also influences someone’s life expectancy. Using postcodes would insure that annuitants living in a safe, comfortable and healthy neighborhood would presumably live longer and therefore receive smaller annuity payouts over a longer period of time.

Armenia: Government Approves Pension Hike (August 30, 2007)
During the period leading up to presidential elections, it is common for the government of Armenia to announce positive reforms to be implemented in the country. As such, the Armenian government set a 60% increase to small pensions paid to elderly citizens. Starting January 1, retirees in Armenia will receive 20,000 drams ($60) monthly. It is important to note that increases were very modest for a long time in Armenia. The government has also announced plans to raise the average pension gradually to at least 36,000 drams by 2012.

Russia: The Government endorsed Bill to Increase Pensions for the Northern Territories (August 29, 2007)
(Article in Russian)

The Russian government endorsed a bill to increase the size of basic pensions for the northern territories. "With the following law we want to increase the amount of old age pensions and disability benefits for individuals who have worked at least for 15 years in the northern part of the country or 20 years in its surrounding territories,” said State deputy Ryazan. The size of the basic old-age pensions and disability benefits for people who have dependent family members will be increased depending on the number of family members (one to three).

Bulgaria: Average Pensions In Bulgaria Will Exceed 90 Euro As Of October (August 29, 2007)
Starting from October 1, 2007, Bulgaria's National Social Security Institute (NSSI) will raise the minimal pension. Meanwhile, the new pension reform will include a reduction of social security installments from 23% to 22% for people born before 1960 and from 18% to 17% for people born before 1959. The average pension will equal to 183.34 leva, or about 90 euro.

France: Francois Fillon is Defending Nicolas Sarkozy’s Program (August 21, 2007)
(Article in French)
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, who appears unobtrusive behind President Sarkozy, is giving an update on the coming reforms in France. While those changes are not unanimously supported in the European Union or in the US, Fillon stresses that despite the current financial crisis, the health system and the pension programs will be changed beginning in September. According to him, France needs such structural changes to boost economic growth and to balance the budget.

Russia: From October 1 In The Basic Pensions of All Types Will be Increased In Russia (August 16, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
The first deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation, Sergey Ivanov, declared that starting on October 1st 2007, the Russian government will increase the basic portion of all types of pensions. The new basic old-age pension will be 1260 rubles, a 13.2% increase. "Of course, we would want to raise [the pensions] more, but we should all admit that the increase is rather significant," said the first deputy prime minister.

Italy: Italy Becoming Prime Retirement Destination (August 11, 2007)
Recent changes in Italian law turned the country into one of the most attractive retirement destinations. One of the adjustments was the abolishment of the inheritance tax in 2001 which helped to facilitate the transfer of assets from parents to children. A stronger family and community ambiance together with a nice climate, combine to encourage older persons to spend their retirement years in Italy.

UK: 25p is an 'Insult' to over-80s (August 6, 2007)
When pensioners in Britain reach 80, the government increases their pension by the Age Addition. The latter has not been increased for 36 years since it was introduced in 1971. Jim Barry, a disabled World War II veteran from Skegness, Lincolnshire says: 'This is not only farcical but insulting. I served my country during the war. Is this what the Government thinks I am worth?” The most elderly seniors feel insulted to receive such a small amount. It’s not enough to buy a “first-class stamp.” The British Government responds that the Age Addition presents a taxable amount which, if increased, would reduce many retirees’ entitlement to means-tested benefits

Sweden: Changes in the Pension System: the Swedish Experience Is Among the Most Ambitious and Original (July 12, 2007)
(Article in French)
A report from a French audit mission on Social Security confirmed that industrialized countries can still save their public pension system. Sweden does not offer a parallel private system, it implemented a new kind of defined contribution plan called “notional accounts.” Those changes in the system keep the “pay as you go” principles: the effort to contribute is favored, and the financial realignments will no longer be sent back on the future generations. 

Russia: Pensions Separated from Taxes (July 11, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
Employees of small organizations can stop worrying about receiving a pension during retirement. The Constitutional Court has recently addressed the issue after the general jurisdiction courts had been flooded with complaints regarding employers who refused to pay the social tax. The state will pay the pensions even if the employer did not pay the state social tax. Employees will receive old-age allowance based on the duration of their work life regardless of the conscientiousness of their employer.

Uzbekistan: Uzbekistan to Increase Public-sector Wages, Pensions, and Social Benefits (July 11, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
The president of Uzbekistan announced an average 25% increase in public-sector wages, pensions, social benefits as well as student grants as of August 1, 2007. The minimum wage is going to equal 15525 soms (about $12) a month and the minimum pension 30750 soms (about $24). The presidential press service also declared a general plan to increase significantly the wages and social benefits until 2010.

Russia: Russia Needs a New Pension System (July 7, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
As a result of numerous changes installed throughout the transition to a market economy, older persons in Russia now represent the poorest layer of the society. Today, the average pension in Russia is only 3000 rubles (about $117) per month, which represents 26% of the average salary. According to estimates, the minimum acceptable income level in Russia should be twice the subsistence level, which is almost 4000 rubles (about $156). Therefore, it can be assumed that, on average, some 40 million Russian retirees, live in serious poverty. In the meantime, inflation and increases in municipal payments will probably absorb the promised 65% increase in pension payments, under consideration in the 3-year budget plan.

Italy: Italian Unions Agree to Government Pension Plan (July 21, 2007)
According to the Italian National Statistics Institute (ISTAT), Italy has Europe’s oldest population with 141 people over age 65 for every 100 who are under 18. Following long negotiations, the Italian government finally approved a pension reform plan which will gradually raise the retirement age to 60 by 2011. Sixty-year-old Italians who retire in 2011 will have paid into the state pension fund for 36 years. Even with the current pension change, Italy will still have the lowest legal retirement age in the European Union.

UK: Young People Underestimating Retirement Needs (July 19, 2007)
A survey questioning more than 2,000 British people shows that the young generation does not estimate correctly the amount of savings necessary to ensure a happy retirement in the future. Almost half of those in their 20s and 30s and quarter of those in 50s do not fully understand the amount of savings needed for retirement. Responding to the concerns of future retirees, Neil Jamieson, retail marketing and business development director at Selftrade, says, “the message is simple: start saving as much as possible now.” Brits should also keep track of upcoming pension reforms which could increase the retirement age and encourage people to save for retirement through “personal accounts.”

UK: Pension Payout Delay 'Disgusting' (July 18, 2007)
Around 125, 000 former employees at collapsed companies across the country have not yet received pension disbursements. For this reason the government panel decided to create a scheme to help them out. The Minister for Pensions Reform, Mike O’Brien, says they hope to form a fund from the assets of all collapsed schemes and to use government funds for a 90% disbursement to former employees. A 68-year old former employee of Early’s, a bankrupt blanket factory, calls for immediate action: "I'm disgusted. None of us are getting any younger. I've been waiting three years, how much longer do I have to wait.

Russia: A Story of a Pensioner (July 17, 2007) 
(Article in Russian)
A veteran of labor (a special title of honor that lingers in Russia since Soviet times), Boris Panov tells about his life as a Russian pensioner. Although he receives only $189 a month, Panov is better off than most of Russia’s retirees. Having reached the age of 80 (way above Russia’s life expectancy), he became eligible for a supplemental pension. He can now afford to buy once a month his favorite magazine–-a Russian equivalent of National Geographic. Despite hardships, Panov said aging gave him a new perspective on things and he has learned to celebrate every new day of his life.

Italy: Italy Reaches Pension Agreement (July 12, 2007)
The Italian government and the trade unions decided to increase the minimum pension starting in 2008. Italian retirees with a pension lower than €654 ($901) per month will benefit from an increase of €33 ($45)after the age of 64. The retirement age will be also increased from 57 to 60 years. Nevertheless, the trade unions are calling for a a more gradual increase in the retirement age

UK: Four in Five Defined-benefit Pension Schemes Shut (July 11, 2007)
The London Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) conducted a survey in 2007 showing that 81% of defined-benefit schemes are closed to new entrants into the workforce. Many companies either closed the employees’ salary based pension scheme or moved employees to less expensive schemes as a consequence of pension deficits. ACA Chairman said that he does not expect the employers to reverse the closures, despite the fact that many schemes are now in surplus. Many retirees will be dependant on means-tested state pensions in the future unless the contributions increase or more employees participate in the risk-sharing schemes. The future for many people entering old age in the UK looks more like poverty.

UK: Retirement Incomes Vulnerable to Inflation (July 10, 2007)
According to Hartford Life, the pensions of UK baby boomers are not adjusted to the inflation rate. A survey on retirement inflation concerns reveals that 9 in 10 consumers worry about the consequences of inflation on their retirement incomes. Meanwhile, Capital Economics research found that the cost of living for pensioners rose by 7.7% in April 2007, compared to a Retail Price Index of 4.5%. Hartford Life CEO Michael Kalen says that the boomers should start planning how to protect their pensions from the negative effects of inflation.

Turkmenistan: Pension Reform Falls Short of Expectations (July 9, 2007)
In 2006 the president of Turkmenistan, Samurmat Niazov, revoked the pension rights of 100,000 retirees, using the lack of sufficient pension funds as an excuse. The new president, Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov, has restored the pension rights guaranteeing a minimum state pension for all the retired Turkmens over the age of 57 for women and 62 for men. News Briefing Central Asia, which draws comments and analysis from a broad range of political observers across the region, applaud the government’s new welfare code, they also call for compensation to cover the period when the government suspended state pensions. “This shows that the current reforms are half-hearted and suggests that they will not be sustained,” said Tajigul Begmedova, head of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, an émigré group based in Bulgaria.

UK: Young Adults Fail to Learn Lessons of Pension Crisis (July 4, 2007)
Recent research based on 2,000 UK adults found that two-thirds of young adults do not plan to save for the retirement while they are young. Conversely, 27% of people over 55 expressed fear of relying solely on the pension fund, and one in five believed that they will likely need a part-time job after retiring. Kirsty Macpherson, spokeswoman for financial services firm Tomorrow, said, “Despite warnings from the government over the pensions gap and the plan to raise the state retirement age, the UK’s twenty-somethings are still not aware of the dangers of planning too late for their retirement.”

Russia: a Nation of Pensioners (July 2, 2007)
Russia has the most rapidly aging population compared to any other European country. Russia’s Pension Fund is already in deficit but social obligations continue to increase. Tax revenues are not enough to pay the pensions resulting in an income-replacement ratio of only 24.2%. Federal allocations constitute 53.3% of the Pension Fund budget for 2007 which suggests that the decrease in government revenues will significantly affect the pensioners. Further pension increases at the expense of the budget will distort the whole system by 2010-2020, the time when the pension load on the national economy will reach its peak. Possible solutions are to increase taxes or the number of taxpayers. An increase in the average age for retirement might also be considered, but the latter has little likelihood to be approved by the public because of the short life expectancy of Russian workers.

Turkmenistan: Turkmen Government Returns Social Welfare to Pensioners (July 2, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
Turkmenistan’s new president, Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov, re-introduced a social welfare code, thereby returning pensions to about 100,000 retirees, payments deprived by the previous regime. Thanks to the code, other pensions, also significantly cut under the late president Saparmurat Niyazov, increased to at least $96 per month, which is ten times the previous amount. 

Russia: More than 200 Elderly in Dzerzhinsk Do Not Receive Pensions on Time (July 2, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
More than 200 retirees with disabilities in the city of Dzerzhinsk, Nizhegorodsk Oblast, do not receive pensions on time due to the work overload of nurses certifying the disability. According to the local Pension Fund manager, the certification process starts late, and “the most vulnerable category of pensioners – the disabled – have to get by without pensions for two to three months.”

UK: Pension Complaints Rise Sharply (June 28, 2007)
The UK Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) reported that complaints about pension administration increased by 15% in the past year. Personal pension complaints rose by 43% due to customer service dissatisfaction. The chief executive of TPAS said they may consider regulatory measures if the pension providers do not improve their service.

Ireland: Older Age of Retirement 'Answer to' Pension Woe (June 26, 2007)
A labor conference announced yesterday that an aging population jeopardizes long-term economic growth in Ireland. Economists claim that by 2036 over 40% of the Irish workforce will be over 50 years of age. The Irish government is consequently encouraged to root out discrimination against the aged in the workforce and support people who choose to work beyond retirement age.

UK: Pension Plans: How Will the New Personal Account Pension Scheme Work? (June 25, 2007)
According to a recent UK report from the Department of Work and Pensions, four out of five citizens have welcomed proposals for a National Pensions Saving Scheme, or Personal Accounts scheme. The government plans to introduce these schemes as part of the pension reforms in 2012. Employers will be obliged to enroll employees into an existing pension scheme or a Personal Accounts scheme. Personal Accounts are primarily designed for people without access to workplace pension schemes. It is expected that the package of initiatives should increase the number of people saving for retirement in the UK. However, some fear that employers may reduce pension contributions to the basic minimum required by Personal Accounts.

Europe: MEPs Agree to Watered Down Pension Plan (June 20, 2007)
The European Parliament has tried to vote for EU-wide minimum standards for supplementary pension rights. Parliament wanted to make it easier to change jobs across borders, effectively encouraging the mobility of EU workers within the member countries. Nevertheless, the European Commission has adopted a law with little resemblance of the original proposal avoiding the portability of pension rights.

Romania: Romanian Retirees Protest Low Pensions (June 19, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
Thousands of Romanian retirees took to the streets of Bucharest and other cities to demand higher pensions and free healthcare. The average pension in Romania is 45% of the average salary. 

Russia: Will Pensions Catch up with Prices? (June 9, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
The average labor pension in Russia today is less than the minimum wage. Russian MPs promise to give the pension a 65% boost by 2010, but the question is whether the pension increase rate will exceed that of rising prices. 

Russia: Consequences of Population Aging (May 31, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
According to Russian demographics specialist Gayane Safarova, western societies’ approach to population aging, for example, increasing the retirement age, is inappropriate for Russia. First, Russian pensioners have low life expectancy, and, Safarova says, it is a sacrilege to take away those few years from their deserved rest. Second, Russian grandparents traditionally have a leading role in taking care of children. Younger couples would be more reluctant to have children if they could not count on retirees in the family to look after the kids.

Russia: Yugra Pensioners to Regain Right to Free Transportation (May 28, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
Officials in Russia’s Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug decided to give pensioners back their right to free public transportation. Previously, Russia sought to set a monetary charge for such benefits as free medications and transportation. The local parliament members are now debating whether to offer this benefit in summer only or throughout the year.

Russia: Agricultural Workers Most Vulnerable (May 21, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
According to a Pskov pension fund regional manager in Russia, almost 300 businesses in the region fail to make the obligatory social security contribution toward their employees’ future pensions. Because of this, more than 4,000 workers, mostly employees of agricultural companies, will be unable to claim the social security part of the pension. More than 70,000 pensioners in the Pskov region currently receive a monthly pension of less than $100. Another 6,000 live on the minimum amount of $62/month.

Russia: Pensioners in Yakutia Continue Hunger Strike (May 17, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
Pensioners in Yakutia, northern Russia, continue the hunger strike they started on April 19, when their local pension fund refused to pay them increased pensions. About 10,000 pensioners in the region are entitled to pensions with an increased coefficient of 1.7. So far, 55 people took part in the strike. 

Netherlands: Holland “Will Work Until 65” – Ministry (May 2, 2007)
A Dutch survey shows that they are more willing to keep working until the official retirement age – 65 years old, up 5% compared to the previous year. While the government has tried to limit early retirement, minister of Social Affairs Piet Hein Donner notices that, now, minds are changing. He points out that, even though some pension schemes still allow transitional early retirement to participants born before 1950, there’s a new ABP ‘choice scheme’ as of 2011. This ABP plan will allow retirement between the age of 60 and 70 and the latter group will receive a more proportionally generous pension.

United Kingdom: Michelin May Slam Brakes on Pension Scheme (May 1, 2007)
The famous French tire maker announced that the companies’ directors will discuss closing the company’s final salary pension scheme, known elsewhere as a defined benefit pension. Michelin had already closed its final salary scheme to new workers three years ago. But now it proposes to close the pension scheme to all employees. Employees who contributed to this system for many years will be transferred to a defined contribution scheme. The company explained its decision by pointing to the liabilities it had accumulated in recent years. Now the managers who incurred those liabilities want protection from a drop in the value of their investments such as shares. And they will transfer that risk to new pensioners. A sorry tale!

European Union: MEPs pension scheme inquiry (April 30, 2007)
Public watchdogs are looking at bad management practices among the European Members of Parliament (MEPs). They are accused of using their office payments to get a free second pension on top of their national schemes. Interestingly, the European Parliament's bureau voted against publishing the list naming the 475 MEPs who benefit from such a pension scheme. This illegitimate perk is estimated to be worth £8 million every year.

Russia: Russia is to Launch a New Mechanism for Raising Future Pensions (April 28, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin announced that beginning 2008 Russia will launch a new mechanism to increase future pensions. The minister promised that the main part of the pension for three years will increase by a total of 65% through creation of an accumulation fund. The parliament is expected to pass a law to this effect in the next few months. 

Russia, Yakutiya: Pensioners in Yakutia are on Hunger-Strike (April 21, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
On April 19 twelve pensioners of Berkakit village, Nerungrinski district of Yakutia, went on a hunger-strike. They took these extreme measures due to the regional Pension Fund’s refusal to obey the Court decision and convert the pensions in this region according to the coefficient 1:7. 

Russia: Experts Suggest Implementing State Welfare Payment on Old Age (April 20, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
Konstantin Ugrumov, the Chairman of National Non-state Pension Funds Association, suggested: “The State might take responsibility for the basic part of the pensions making the welfare payment on old age, and using the rest of the financial resources to stimulate citizens’ participation in a voluntary cumulative pension system.” He provided his arguments for this approach during a conference on the “The role of non-state pension provision in Russia pension system.”

The Netherlands: Sharing Risk: The Netherlands' New Approach to Pensions (April 2007)
After 2000, the Dutch adopted a “mixed” system of pension plans that combines features of defined benefits and defined contribution plans to remove some risk from employers and “share” it with employees as well. Read this report for a full description of how the plan works.

UK: Help Is at Hand (April 19, 2007)
Gordon Brown, Blair’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, faced a vote of no confidence concerning the recent pensions affair. The Conservative party opened this crisis to force Mr. Brown to explain his 1997 decision to cancel a pensions tax break. Apparently, Brown ignored warnings that ending dividend tax relief would devastate pension schemes. People, who have been affected when their firms went bust afterwards, are no longer being left out but are entitled to 80% compensation. This attack from the Conservatives seems only political and indignant since the pension system was “destroyed” well before Mr. Brown.

Czech Republic-Slovakia: Czechs, Slovaks to Cooperate on Pension Reform (April 5, 2007)
The Czech and Slovak Labor Ministers met to prepare a Social Security agreement that will respond to the separation of the former Czechoslovakia into two states. Current Czech retirees used to work in firms based in Slovakia. Now they receive lower benefits than if the Czech Republic had paid their pension. Indeed, following the Czechoslovakia separation, Slovakia turned out to have lower wages and higher unemployment than did the Czech Republic. Both ministers intend to regulate the provision of old-age pensions and to agree on a common Labor code.

Romania: Private Pensions Ready for Launch (April 5, 2007)
Romanians are creating a private pension system very quickly. Collection for compulsory private pensions (second pillar) will start in August. The first contributions to optional private pensions (third pillar) should be allowed by May. The private pensions are regarded as “a second salary for 2 million employees” according to a seminar recently organized by ING Life Insurance and a Romanian newspaper. The compulsory private pension fund will make its debut in August. Private companies hawking such pension funds will likely harass Romanians until November. Did the Romanians review of the sad history of the private pension system of Chile before moving forward with this model?

UK: Head to head: Property or pension? (March 27, 2007)
Two experts discuss whether “people should forget about saving in a personal pension fund and just put their faith in bricks and mortar instead.” Real estate can be a safe long-term investment, but many worry that they will not get many benefits: this was the case following the housing crisis in the 1990’s. People must also remember that taking out a loan to buy a home can also be expensive—repaying the loan plus interest. Eventually both experts recommend against real estate as the sole retirement income option: “a spread of assets is a much more sensible idea.”

France: “Who Will Pay Our Pensions?” (March 23, 2007)
(Article in French)
This article records the testimony of two retired factory-workers. As the French presidential elections approach, they both wonder which candidate will be the more able to maintain the pay-as-you-go pension system based on solidarity between generations. The first worker, who was a trade union militant, regards “the loss of politicization” –even in the left wing parties- as a danger and fears the growing strength of hedge funds. The second worker, who belongs to an immigrant family and worked as a miner, points out that many people have contributed all their lives to a pension system that will not be sufficient to cover future health expense. 

Turkmenistan: New Turkmen President Restores Pensions to More Than 100,000 (March 19, 2007)
Former Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov cancelled pension payments to more than 100,000 retirees. He invoked budget reasons for the arbitrary decision. Under the new President’s rule, the new Code of Social Guarantees restores pensions and re-establishes maternity and sick benefits. It is also intended to increase the pension amount; the minimum pension in Turkmenistan is currently about US$12 per month.

Russia: Pensioner is Not Dependant (March 16, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
According to the All-Russian Center of Life Level (ARCLL), the pensions of 15-19 million Russian people are below of living wage. How much money do Russian pensioners need for a decent existence? Where can the State find the money for this support? Vaycheslav Bobkov, Director of ARCLL, Doctor of Economics, Professor, talks about these critical issues. 

UK: Think Long Term, Gore Tells Pension Funds (March 15, 2007)
Former US vice-president, Al Gore, spoke at the annual investment conference of the National Association of Pension Funds in Edinburgh saying that short-termism in company decision-making would delay progress in tackling the carbon emissions causing global warming. In his speech, Mr Gore produced an array of statistics showing how the investment community, backed by pension fund money, was encouraging company executives to reject investments that failed to improve short term profits. Pension funds have long-term goals and should be managed as such rather than worrying about short-term gains.

Italy: Italy Government to Meet Unions (March 14, 2007)
The government agreed to meet with union leaders and the employers' association Confindustria on March 22. They will mainly discuss the calculations for the retirement age and pensions. The unions have agreed to accept the hike in the retirement age; in exchange, the unions want the government to “freeze for a few years talks on the reduction of coefficients with which it calculates pension payments.”

Germany: German Parliament Increases Retirement Age (March 9, 2007)
The decision to increase retirement age is part of Chancellor Merkel’s reform program in which she promised “a revamp of health care and the labor market.” Opposing the government’s arguments--to keep people in jobs longer in order to counter the demographic effects--trade unions demonstrated to denounce a “counterproductive” law. They claim that, instead of solving the problem, raising retirement age will increase unemployment and consequently poverty among the elderly.

Sweden: Sweden’s Pension Antidote Finds a Global Audience (March 5, 2007)
The Swedish pension model, which encourages its citizens to retire later on in life, may now be implemented elsewhere around the world. Though the program encourages many to retire later on in life, experts say that it places the ‘burden of aging’ on the individual rather than on the society.’ In other words, the system does little to alleviate income inequalities, thus allowing those who make more during their lifetime to receive a larger pension. The World Bank officially endorsed the idea, claiming that it could serve as a model for pension-systems worldwide. However, the overall effectiveness of such a program (or lack thereof) is difficult to determine given the fact that the program is only eight years old.

Spain: Fifty-seven percent of Persons between 55 and 64 Years Old Are Unemployed
(February 27, 2007)

Article in Spanish
Almost 3/5 of the pre-retirement population is unemployed. What happened? Many companies want to make-over their staffs, replacing older employees, considered as hindrances, with younger employees who have better skills for competition in today’s market. While there are pre-retirement workers who find early retirement offers attractive, many were forced to leave their jobs, where they have been working for scores and decades, much earlier than they anticipated. This practice is discriminative and undignified because it leaves these near-retirees with low self-esteem and a sense of unworthiness, which can cause damage to their health and well-being.

Cyprus: Cypriot Pensioners on the Poverty Line (February 21, 2007)
An EU report says that many older Cypriots live in poverty. Compared to the European 16% average, older Cypriots face a risk of poverty as high as 51%. However the government doesn’t plan massive pension increases over the coming years since the social insurance fund is relatively new in the country. The Labor Minister said that Cypriots can rely on “additional assistance” from the Welfare Department, and that the EU conclusions are alarmist only because they looked at the sustainability of public finances. Yet trade unions, including the Pensioners Union, have suggested the possibility of setting up a “minimum income or to develop a second pillar with defined-contribution provision.”

UK: High Court Victory for Pensioners (February 21, 2007)
A High Court has ruled that the British government is guilty of maladministration. Some 85,000 people lost their public pensions when the firms they worked for went bust between 1997 and 2005. However the Court decision doesn’t compel the government to compensate them for their loss. The government doesn’t intend either to pay full compensation estimated at £15bn. The opposition has immediately reacted to the High Court decision and proposed “amendments to the Pensions Bill calling for compensation.” 

Italy: Italian Workers to Put about 25 Percent Severance Pay in Pension Schemes (February 6, 2007)
Half of Italian workers currently favor leaving their severance pay fund with the company where they worked. Beginning June 30, the government plans to take control of those funds and may direct the allocation toward private pension funds. Asset management firms are hoping to increase their pension fund business via this change. And the workers’ desires?

Russia: Pension Reform Prompted to Retire (February 2, 2007)
Russia’s Health and Social Development Ministry proposed to change the national pension fund into a two-level pension system. The first component will stay as a pay-as-you-go system operated by the government. As for the second component, the State wants to give up its responsibility and leave savings to the individual’s responsibility. Tax benefits will encourage the creation of a private pension savings program that will not be mandatory.

Switzerland: Aging, Asset Allocation, and Costs: Evidence for the Pension Fund Industry
in Switzerland (February 2007)
This International Monetary Fund report analyses the Swiss pension system demonstrating the aging population’s impact on pension funds’ investment behavior. Switzerland has a mandatory and funded occupational (“second pillar”) pension system. It appears well-prepared to face aging demographic challenges. In Switzerland workers’ benefits tend to be more strongly invested in real estate, which provides regular and less volatile cash flows in order to meet payment obligations.

France: Mechanisms of Demographic Compensation for Aging (January 2007)
(Report in French)
This French Senate report tackles a tricky and technical topic: compensation, which is the base for the French pay-as-you-go pension system. After World War II, new governments failed to implement a unified pension system and several autonomous programs remained for farmers, railroad and craft workers, etc. In 1974 lawmakers enacted legislation to counter the imbalance due to the baby-boom. The goal was to offset the accounts of all pension programs: some professions have a positive ratio of workers to retirees while others don’t and are in deficit. However, there will be great difficulty managing this varied compensation mechanism due to expected massive retirements in the coming years.

EU: Requesting Delay in Retirement Age (January 29, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
The World Economic Forum recommended to the European governments and corporations that they delay the age for retirement to compensate for the reduced workforce and reduce the expanding aging population. The German government is first to take measures to resolve this issue with plans to extend the retirement age from 65 years old to 67 years old, a move that is unpopular with its citizens. Conversely, the French Minister of Commerce believes that the European population has accepted that older people will have to work more years to save reduce pressures on pension systems brought on by longevity.

Ireland: Labour Court Asks Bank of Ireland to Re-Open DB Scheme (January 25, 2007) The Labour Court required the Bank of Ireland to offer an option of a Defined Benefit pension scheme for new staff hired after October 1, 2006. An agreement about a Defined Benefit/Defined Contribution hybrid scheme failed after discussion with the unions. Several Irish companies have already implemented this pension arrangement, stating that the hybrid scheme is “more generous than others systems on the Irish market.” The unions reject any such proposal and denounce the bank that could still afford a Defined Benefit scheme but closed it to take less liability. 

Russia: Pension Money Is Stolen (January 23, 2007)
(Article in Russian)
The police forces of Kabardina Balkariya found out that large amounts of Pension Fund money disappeared during the construction of the more than 10 buildings that belong to the Federal Pension Fund. The investigation showed that the construction companies reported that they used more money to build construction projects than was true. It is not the first time that criminals steal from the most vulnerable and unprotected social group. Those who took pension money, obviously, do not count on a pension when they grow old.

Netherlands: Think-Tank Puts Pension Bill at €11bn (January 15, 2007)
The Dutch political parties, as they form a new coalition government, are considering part-taxation of the contributions that workers pay to a public or a company fund. The Dutch think tank, “Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis,” (CPB) has influenced those discussions, since it now believes that the expenses of longevity will be higher than expected. According to its study, the government should decrease its expenses by 11bn euros over the long term in order to fund coming aging costs.

France: Strauss-Kahn Doesn’t Want a New Tax to Finance the Pensions (January 14, 2007)
(Article in French)
As the socialist party’s program takes shape, so does candidate Segolene Royal’s. A former socialist Finance Secretary, D. Strauss-Kahn, has been asked to study possible pension changes. He noted that the specific systems, which work well for certain professions, do have to be reorganized. However the State, employers and trade unions must decide on changes through a common agreement. He denounced “those who want to reform with political decrees without any consultation.” He opposes adding new taxes but would raise the retirement age for the less physically arduous jobs.

Poland: New Law in Poland Is Aimed at Former Secret Police Agents (January 12, 2007) 
In the light of the scandal about the Roman Catholic Church’s affiliation with the Sluzba Bezpieczentwa, a Communist-era secret police, Polish Prime Minister Kaczynski promised to seek a new law that will exclude former secret police agents from working for the government, leaving them with reduced or no pensions. Is cessation of an earned pension an appropriate punishment?

UK: DB Schemes in UK ‘Will Die Out by 2012’ (January 11, 2007)
Companies in the United Kingdom are developing DC (defined-contribution) pension schemes for their new employees. The trend is clearer in the financial services sector where no DB (defined-benefit) plans were offered last year. Overall in 2006 only 21% of the corporate pension plans were defined-benefit plans. Employees who benefit from those DB plans have better retirement coverage since the employer must contribute to their pensions. Yet more companies plan to privatize their pension systems which will likely encourage more employee turnover. It seems that a worker confident about an adequate retirement is less important than extracting ever greater profits for the boss.

UK: New BA Pension Details Revealed (January 8, 2007)
In response to a pension deficit, British Airway has reached an agreement with its union after nine months of negotiation. The new deal, which is outlined in the article, will affect nearly 34,000 flying crew and ground staff. Effective in April, the new deal will allow employees to have the option of when they want to retire. That information will determine how much money will be deducted from their paychecks.

France: Retirement: Questions and Trends for 2008 (January 2007)
(Report in French)
The Pensions’ Trends Council (COR) discusses the “2008 appointment” that French must meet following the significant changes made in 2003 in the French pension system. The report reaffirms the choice of a pay-as-you-go defined-benefit scheme as well as equity between all specific pension programs. To attain the 2008 goal –which is to increase pensions - the age retirement must be raised, and a minimum pension may be implemented. The report defines France’s room for maneuver, from an economic and financial point of view. The report also evaluates pension systems implemented in other countries (such as the drastic changes in Sweden or Italy) for what France might find applicable. 

Armenia: Towards Social Justice: Pension Reform in Armenia (2006)
Armenia, similar to other former Soviet countries, still faces a challenge of adapting to a market economy. The current social system confronts major shortcomings resulting from the deficiencies of a legal and institutional base. The basic pension in Armenia is several times lower than the national minimum subsistence. Mandatory social contributions constitute 22% of an average salary and 20% on a salary double the average, while the monthly pensions are 19% of a salary for an employee on an average salary and 9% for an employee on salary double the average. Meanwhile, the pensions do not depend on the amount of social contributions made throughout the employment period, which distorts the incentive to make social contributions. This underlines the necessity to implement social reforms in Armenia.

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Middle East
& North Africa


Bahrain: No Early Retirement of Women Workers (November 12, 2007)
“Bahrain government has once again rejected a demand of parliamentarians to implement early retirement of female workers because of high cost of the proposal.” According to the proposal, women who want to take early retirement would be treated on a par with those retiring for sickness or superannuation. Given the gender inequalities in salaries and retirement costs, is this proposal an effective measure to bridge the gaps?


Iraq: The  Dignity of Senior Citizens in Iraq is a Casualty of the Occupation and the Deteriorating Situation (June 19, 2007)
(Article in Arabic)
Hajj Khalil, aged 72, was a school teacher for 35 years only to discover that his pension would only last him a few days. “I was really depending on it- I thought that it would be cover all my needs and the needs of my family. I still support my wife and children, who are also facing this difficult situation.” Hajj Khalil is not alone in his predicament; in fact, since the war started in 2003, many elderly persons have found that their pensions have all but dried up. Hajj Khalil now works as a street peddler, selling toothpaste. Many other older Iraqis have resorted to re-entering the work force in hopes of putting food on the table. Even then conditions are difficult; the average Iraqi income today does not exceed a few dollars per month, making Iraq one of the poorest countries in world. “Do not ask me how I get my food and water,” says a retired woman who worked as a principal in one of Baghdad ’s most famous elementary schools. “I am so ashamed,” she added, as she began to tear.


Palestine : Retirement Workshop Takes Place in Hebron (June 12, 2007)
(Article in Arabic)
The organization for Civil Rights organized a workshop on the rights of the elderly in retirement. Participants were informed of their various rights and the qualifications they must meet to receive benefits. They also called on the government to enact the law that deals with retirement and pensions--clause 121 number 7--that was passed in 2005.

Morocco: Secretary F. Oualalou’s Alarmist Words (March 12, 2007)
(Article in French)
During a March meeting organized to discuss the fact that the public service’s pensions would be reformed,” the Moroccan Finance Secretary, Fathallah Oualalou, denounced the implicit debt of the pension funds. This debt, namely the difference between their commitments and their real financial reserves, would border on the amount of the national GDP. The Secretary used such alarmist remarks to urge quick decisions in the pension reform process. If no steps are taken quickly, Moroccans retirees will have to make more sacrifices and the budget balance of the pension funds will be threatened. 

Morocco: A System of Complementary Pension is Necessary (March 20, 2007)
(Article in French)
Despite an apparently good organization for its retirement system, only 21% of workers earn a pension. Yet, Morocco has compulsory public pension funds, a compulsory program and an optional one for the private sector workers. Government and unions recently proposed to “turn the optional program into a system of complementary pension following the principles of the National Fund of Social Security (CNSS).” According to them, “providing complementary pensions should be the companies’ responsibility towards its employees.” 

UAE: Retired People Should Also Get Increments, Says NCC (February 14, 2007)

In view of the spiraling cost of living and ongoing inflation, the National Consultative Council (NCC) has urged that retired people must get the same increments the government has introduced for public servants.  The NCC suggested devising a policy to evaluate and assess pensions in accordance with the inflation rate to make sure that the high cost of living does not affect retired people negatively. It proposed that the salary ceiling of 80 per cent should be discarded to allow retirees to receive a higher pension in accordance with his/her service duration.


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Report: World: Global Pension Plan (October 2007)
(Report is also available in Spanish)
Demographers expect 9 billion human beings in 2050 and more than 2 billion older persons over 60. If nothing changes, 1.20 billion will live under the poverty line by that time. Robin Blackburn, a contemporary English economist, advocates for a ‘global pension’ that would be financed by a small tax on global financial transactions and available to old persons globally. It would enable people over 60 to get, at the beginning, a one-dollar-a-day-pension. According to the author, "this small sum would help to lift hundreds of millions of the aged out of poverty in every part of the globe."  


World: Pensions in Developing Countries: A Quest for a Modern Format for Intergenerational Solidarity (October 2007)
Today, 100 million people over 60 live on less than $1 a day. However, older people take on a key responsibility, especially in developing countries: they often take care of grandchildren while parents move to the cities or suffer from HIV/AIDS. Helping old people would therefore have positive consequences for the younger generation. To fight against extreme poverty among old people, this report argues for setting up social pensions, a non-contributory pension. 

World: Report: Social Security Coverage and the Labor Market in Developing Countries (August 2007)
(PDF format, 46 p.)
The following paper discusses the reasons for low coverage of social security programs in developing countries. The report estimates the degree to which low participation is caused by involuntary rationing as well as the degree to which it is attributable to lack of willingness or ability to contribute to old-age pension programs. The report compares contribution patterns between two categories of employees--employees whose participation is required and self-employed workers whose participation is non-compulsory. The results show that for both categories of workers, on average 20-30% variance in participation patterns is due to low willingness to contribute to old-age programs. Meanwhile, the report finds that there are numbers of employees who are rationed out of social security against their own desire as a result of failure to find formal jobs with benefits.


OECD: Report: Pensions at a Glance: Public Policies across OECD Countries (2007)
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study, “Pensions at a Glance,” delivers an updated comparison of pension and retirement policies across OECD countries. The review presents country-specific analytical data making it a useful source. Italy ranks first for the highest public spending on pensions among the 30 OECD countries. Italy spent 13.9% of GDP on public pensions in 2003 in comparison with 7.7 % of GDP for the average. Austria, Portugal and Poland are also included in the list of the most generous countries in terms of public pension spending. The current "reforms" in most of these countries aim to cut the retirement benefits considerably. The OECD report reveals that the new system may increase the income gap between the low and high earners, thereby increasing old-age poverty. Germany, France and Japan have already cut their benefits by 15-20%. Moreover, Germany has moved the retirement age beyond 65. The new private pension plan in Germany is supposed to compensate for the reduction of public benefits. Conversely, the UK has the lowest public pensions, almost half the net replacement rate in Italy and Spain.

World: Report: An Evaluation of World Bank Research, 1998 – 2005 (September 24, 2006)
(PDF Format, 165 p.)
After asking a group of economists to prepare an independent evaluation of the World Bank research activities between 1998 – 2005, the Bank has made the findings public. The findings show that the Bank selectively used research data to advocate its policies and projects. The report criticizes the pro-privatization bias of the Bank’s “pension reform” which clearly did not inform the Bank’s principal mission to understand development policy. The evaluation also highlights the necessity to monitor and evaluate the research on a more frequent basis.

World: The Case for a Global Pension and Youth Grant (May 2007)
In this paper, Robin Blackburn, Professor for Economics at the University of Essex, England, and the New School for Social Research, in New York, suggests the creation of a Global Pension and Youth Grant, to combat poverty. In addition to identifying the needs for such a Grant, Blackburn also proposes financing options, showing that establishing the Grant indeed lies within financial and technical reach for our globalized world. The paper is based on a presentation Blackburn gave during the event,Disappearing Pensions in Rich Countries,” organized by Global Action on Aging, at the 2007 UN Commission for Social Development.

World: Hedge Funds: Angels or Devils? (April 3, 2007)
(Article in French)
Michel Prada, president of the French equivalent of the American Securities Exchange Commission, declared that hedge funds (used to invest in stock exchanges for future pension benefits) are necessary to regulate the market: “they turn peaceful managements upside down.” Some economists suggest that hedge funds act as regulators and can save underestimated companies. Yet other experts claim that hedge funds can make stocks fall. The mini crisis of February 2007 seems to confirm the accusation of short term speculation.

World: Major Developments and Trends in Population Ageing (February 7-9, 2007)
Life expectancy varies in different countries and regions of the world. People in Japan are more likely to live longer than people in Africa. Two developments converge to create this new situation. In this demographic transition, the mortality rate is higher than birth rate. Therefore there are fewer younger people replacing the older generation. Another development is that life expectancy is getting longer. This will impact the dependency ratio. Although the world’s total dependency ratio will not change, the ratio of elderly persons over the age of 65 and the younger persons under the age of 15 will change. Older persons’ pension income largely depends on the workforce population. With the disproportional ratio of pension supply and demand, this can create a serious crisis if governments fail to take corrective action.

World: Should Old-Age Benefits Be Earnings-Tested? (February 2007)
This German Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) paper analyzes the “welfare effects of earnings testing flat-rate old-age benefits” in a Beveridge system, the universal old age benefit system implemented in the UK. The authors ask “whether benefits should be paid to everyone above a certain age or only to those with no or low wage income,” i.e., with or without an earnings-tested condition? This report relies on a scientific and microeconomic analysis and on Rawl’s theory of justice about the positive effects of redistribution in order to promote a redistributive social security with flat-rate benefits.

World: Global Aging and the Sustainability of Public Pension Systems (January 2007)
The Report discusses efforts of certain developed countries (such as the United States, Sweden, France, Australia, et al) to prepare for their coming age waves and in particular, to change their public pension systems. The Report compares their pension systems, their legal and cultural background and the recent developments. The Report favors partially privatizating public pensions systems in a variety of ways. In short, it urges changes that might increase pension levels but runs the serious downside risk of greater instability and financial loss for retirees. 


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