It was great to It was fantastic to see Guy’s message yesterday sharing some very important perspectives on old age and social protection and Isabel's message today highlighting the key outcomes of the policy paper on pension that ILO launched today
On the International Day of Older People, HelpAge International is launching the Global AgeWatch Index 2014, which this year focuses on social protection and touches on very similar issues. The index, which presents a unique snapshot of the situation of older people in 96 countries across the world, is now in its second year since it was first constructed in 2013. One of the benefits of this is that it is now possible to see changes that are happening over time in different countries and one of the biggest changes this year has been an increase in pension coverage – particularly in low and middle income countries. This echoes one of the main trends highlighted by the ILO.
We use the report to look at increases in pension coverage in recent years, and identify a number of conclusions.
The Global AgeWatch Index, now in its second year, ranks 96 countries according to the social and economic wellbeing of their older people – that’s 91 per cent of the global population aged 60 and over. The Index shows that economic growth alone will not improve older people’s wellbeing and that specific policies need to be put in place.
This year, the Index’s Insight report has a special focus on income security, a fundamental concern for older people everywhere. This puts a spotlight on how different countries are responding to people’s right to a secure income in later life, particularly by extending pension coverage a trend which has also been recognised in the ILO paper. The increase in pension coverage is related to a multiplicity of factors including:
The political drivers which have gone beyond the concern of the current generation of older people reflecting a recognition of the various ways in which old age income security affects people across their whole lives. Pensions, as part of a social protection floor, have shown substantial potential to reduce and contain economic inequalities across people’s lives.
Increasing pension coverage has been particularly due to the introduction and expansion of social (non-contributory) pensions in countries as varied as Cape Verde, China, Nepal, South Korea, Swaziland, Timor-Leste and Thailand. In fact, in the last two decades social pensions have gone from a relatively marginal component of pension systems globally, to a policy that exists in over 100 countries. The rise of social pensions marks something of a shift from the historic focus on contributory pensions, to an emphasis on a basic non-contributory floor upon which contributory savings can be built over time.
Despite these positive developments, ¼ of older people in low and middle income countries still receive no pension at all, and for many that do it is wholly inadequate. Yet the example of countries that have introduced universal or near-universal pensions shows that a minimum floor of social protection in old age is affordable both now and in the long-run.
We’re looking forward to taking part in a launch of both reports at the Palais de Nacions in Geneva later today organised by the NGO committee on ageing in Geneva and the UN.
Please do visit the full Global AgeWatch website where you can find the report as well as detailed profiles and infographics for the 96 countries in the index. The website provides full details of how the Index was constructed and links to all the data sets. You can also view country report cards for all the countries in the Index, with radar charts showing how individual countries perform against the regional average for each domain.
Deputy CEO - Director of Policy and Strategy
tel. +44 (0)7921048998