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Pensions: progress towards extending social protection reach outlined by ILO


28th September: Tax-financed pensions are proliferating in developing countries, with universal pensions developed in 22, from Argentina to Zanzibar (Tanzania) and a further six achieving near-universality, according to a new ILO report. But still fewer than 20% of older persons in low-income nations are accessing a pension.

These are headline findings from a new ILO social protection policy paper, Social protection for older persons: Policy trends and statistics 2017-19, released to coincide with International Day of Older Persons, in which the UN body underlines the “very positive trend” for non-contributory pensions, including universal social pensions. It states that this is particularly welcome that this is being achieved in countries with high levels of informality facing difficulties in extending contributory schemes. “Trends show that many countries are succeeding in introducing a universal floor of income security for older persons.” 

The paper identifies that universal pensions have been developed in Argentina, Belarus, Bolivia, Botswana, Cabo Verde, China, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and Zanzibar (United Republic of Tanzania), while other developing countries, such as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Brazil, Chile, Kazakhstan and Thailand, are “near universality”. 

Development Pathways welcomes the report, as the best way pensions can reach older persons in poverty is through universal schemes, which have successfully been introduced in developing countries with a big impact on the wellbeing of both the elderly and their families. Our work includes the support of social pensions, such as the case of the Senior Citizens Grant in Uganda.

View some of our research in our Village Voices series on Kenya’s Inua Jamii Senior Citizens’ pension scheme. 




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