International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy
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International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy

Sarah Harper, Kate Hamblin, Jaco Hoffman, Kenneth Howse and George Leeson

The International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy explores the challenges arising from the ageing of populations across the globe for government, policy makers, the private sector and civil society. It examines various national state approaches to welfare provisions for older people, and highlights alternatives based around the voluntary and third-party sector, families and private initiatives. The Handbook is highly relevant for academics interested in this critical issue, and offers important messages for policy makers and practitioners.
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Chapter 9: The design and implementation of pension systems in developing countries: issues and options

David E. Bloom and Roddy McKinnon


Social security is commonly regarded as a basic human right. It is enshrined as such in international legal instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. For the elderly – defined here as those individuals who have reached a statutory minimum pensionable or retirement age – this supports the principle of the right to receive a cash income in the form of an old-age pension on a regular and predictable basis. Moreover, it should be viewed not only as desirable but, indeed, normal that societies should institute arrangements designed with the aim of working toward realizing this human right, given national customs and the existence of comprehensive frameworks of national and international law. However, the global reality in this regard is deceiving. Although all countries have some form of institutional provision of social security coverage, such provision is, in practice, often insufficient. As a result, the International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that ‘[a]bout 5.1 billion people, 75 per cent of the world’s population, are not covered by adequate social security’ (ILO, 2011, p. xxi; emphasis added). What is often lacking is comprehensiveness in terms of population coverage and of the risks covered and the capacity to offer adequate benefits and quality services in a sustainable manner.

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