Social Policy and the British Imperial Legacy
Edited by James Midgley and David Piachaud
Chapter 9: The British Influence on Social Security Policy: Provident Funds in Asia and Africa
Edwell Kaseke, James Midgley and David Piachaud One of the many legacies of colonialism, perhaps the greatest in purely financial terms, has been provident funds. This chapter seeks to describe what they are and why they came into existence and explore why some have grown and prospered and others have faded away. A provident fund is at the simplest level a fund into which individual contributions are made, which accumulates, and which is paid out typically on retirement. It is therefore a form of retirement or old age provision. Most provident funds have been compulsory for certain defined types of workers, usually those in formal employment with larger employers. Most funds have received contributions from both workers and employers, often in equally matching amounts, so that it is partly a form of personal thrift and partly a form of occupational welfare. Most funds accumulate at certain defined rates of interest but some invest in a variety of assets with rates of return that may be above or below rates of inflation. Most have paid out a lump sum payment at a defined age but some have converted this into annuities. Some have allowed accumulated lump sums to be paid to assist purchase of housing or education. But the primary purpose has been to promote saving for old age. What is characteristic of provident funds is that they are individual funds with contributions benefitting individual members or their heirs with no redistribution between members. This contrasts with membership of a social...
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