Pension watch briefing series

Our Pension watch briefing series aims to share lessons on the design and implementation of social pensions. The series includes thematic briefs as well as more detailed overviews of particular social pension schemes.

You can download the briefings directly from this page or order hard copies from the main HelpAge International website.



Briefing no. 15: Pensions means testing vs universal targeting: assumptions of efficiency and affordability

This brief revisits two social policy assumptions regarding universal social pensions. It illustrates the emerging evidence that universal social pensions are both economically viable and efficient strategies to alleviate older-age income deprivation.


Briefing no. 14: Social protection for older people in extreme poverty in Peru (Spanish)

This brief highlights some of the key features and achievments of the Pension 65 programme introduced in 2011 to reduce poverty and vulnerability among older people in Peru. It includes a summary of some of the innovations of the scheme, including the fact that all recipients are provided with health insurance and a savings account in the Banco de la Nacion.



Briefing no. 13: Towards universal pension coverage in Mexico  

In 2000 only 22% of older people in Mexico received a pension. Then, in 2002, the first non-contributory pension was introduced in Mexico City. Since then 17 of Mexico's 31 states have also introduced social pensions and so has the federal district. The introduction of these non-contributory pensions meant that in 2013 coverage had risen to 88%.This briefing first looks at the situation before social pensions were introduced, it then tracks the rise in coverage and finishes by suggesting some areas for improvement.


Briefing no. 12: Redistribution of wealth and old age social protection in Bolivia.

In 2008 Bolivia introduced the Renta Dignidad, a univeral social pension for those over 60. Currently the pension reaches 91% of people over 60 - compared to the 14% covered by the contributory system. This briefing explores the situation of older people in Bolivia, the Renta Dignidad in more detail and the impact that it is having on older people, and those they live with.

Now available in Spanish: Redistribución de la riqueza y protección social para los adultos mayores en Bolivia

Pension watch briefing no. 11

Briefing no. 11: Pension coverage in China and the expansion of the New Rural Social Pension

In recent years China has achieved unprecedented expansion of pension coverage, with the pension system now being seen as important for inclusive growth and central to social and economic policy. This briefing aims to explore how China has achieved this rapid expansion in the face of population ageing and low pension coverage.

The briefing describes three phases of pension development in China - from a narrow focus on formal sector workers to the recent drive for universal coverage.

This briefing draws on a background paper, Analysing the coverage gap in China.

Pension watch briefing no. 10

Briefing no. 10: Social protection for older Kenyans: options for implementing the National Social Protection Policy

With the importance of social protection gaining recognition in Kenya this briefing aims to add to the debate on the way forward, with a focus on income security in old age. With this in mind, it explores the options for implementing the National Social Protection Policy.

It describes how a universal pension would provide a practical and efficient way to rapidly increase coverage while avoiding fragmentation in the pension system.

Pension watch briefing no. 9

Briefing no. 9: Social protection floors and pension systems: the role of a "citizen's pension"

There is growing recognition that developing countries need to prioritise extending national floors of social protection. But, what are social protection floors, and what link do they have to the pension system?

This briefing aims to answer these questions, and to introduce the concept of a "citizen's pension" as a particularly relevant approach in developing countries.

Now available in Spanish: ‘Pisos' de protección social y sistemas de pensiones: El papel de las "pensiones ciudadanas"

Pension watch briefing no. 8

Briefing No. 8: Electronic payment for cash transfer programmes: Cutting costs and corruption or an idea ahead of its time?

This briefing focuses on the practical considerations of establishing e-payment systems for distributing cash transfers.

It illustrates the positive impacts these systems can have over traditional 'physical' systems whilst also acknowledging the disadvantages. Finally, it explores potential barriers to the use of e-payments by recipients and discusses whether e-payments are suitable within the context of emergency response.

Pension watch briefing no. 7

Briefing No. 7: Poverty, pensions and wellbeing: the impact of pensions in South Africa and Brazil, a comparative study

This briefing compares the impact of pensions in South Africa and Brazil, focussing both on poverty and well-being.

It demonstrates that the impact of pensions goes beyond the direct beneficiaries as older people continue to assist their families and households. It finds that the positive impacts of pension income on older people's wellbeing are shaped by the wider economic and public policy context.

Pension watch briefing no. 6

Briefing No. 6: Challenges and opportunities for age verification in low- and middle-income countries

This briefing focuses on practical considerations for the design and implementation of new registration systems.

It illustrates why registration for age-based transfers is administratively simpler and thus easier to implement at national scale than when based on income or poverty level. It also provides observations and lessons for strengthening existing weak and ineffective registration systems.

Pension watch briefing no. 5

Briefing No. 5: Good practice in the development of management information systems for social protection

This briefing aims to fill a gap in the literature on management information systems (MIS) by examining good practice in their design for social protection.

It recommends that discussions on MISs should move away from the narrow view that they consist only of application software and computer hardware, but rather as the systems that underpin the operations of social protection schemes.

Pension watch briefing no. 4

Briefing No. 4: Financing social pensions in low- and middle-income countries

This briefing presents an overview of the different options available to finance new social pension schemes or to scale up existing ones.

It aims to provide useful learning for countries considering the implementation of social pensions, as well as the financing of other cash-transfer and social protection programmes.

Now available in Spanish: Financiamiento de pensiones no contributivas en países de bajos y medianos ingresos

Pension watch briefing no. 3

Briefing No. 3: Strengthening state-citizen relations in fragile contexts: The role of cash transfers

This briefing examines the role of cash transfers in strengthening state-citizen relations in the context of long-term development in fragile states and situations.

The briefing is based on a longer report. To learn more download Strengthening state-citizen relations in fragile contexts (full report)

Pension watch briefing no. 2

Briefing No. 2: The price of income security in older age: Cost of a universal pension in 50 low- and middle-income countries

This briefing considers the potential costs, now and in the future, of universal social pensions in 50 low and middle-income countries under a range of scenarios.

The briefing is based on a longer report. To learn more download The price of income security in older age: Cost of a universal pension in 50 low- and middle-income countries - Discussion paper

Now available in Spanish: El precio de la seguridad de ingresos en la vejez: El costo una pensión universal en 50 países de ingresos bajos y medianos

Pension watch briefing no. 1

Briefing No. 1: A social pension in Zambia: perceptions of the cash transfer pilot in Katete

This briefing outlines the perceptions of recipients and others of a pilot cash transfer scheme for everyone over the age of 60 and discusses the practical benefits and challenges of implementing the scheme.

A key finding is that the age-based criteria was seen as fair and socially acceptable. This is in contrast to many experiences of poverty targeting.

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