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Securing Old Age: The Case for ‘Social’ Pensions in Developing Countries

PFM, Vol. 5 No. 2, (2005)

With growing populations of older people in developing countries, the
disproportionate numbers who are ageing in poverty is an increasing concern.
During the last decade it has become more widely accepted in development circles
that economic growth alone will not reduce or eliminate poverty, especially of
particularly disadvantaged groups such as older people. Interest has therefore
increased in the role that social protection may play in supporting vulnerable groups,
both for their immediate assistance and to help provide stronger foundations for
overall growth. At the same time a number of developing countries have introduced a
variety of basic cash transfer schemes targeted at older people. Although the majority
are aimed at those in poverty, a few have chosen to introduce universal benefits.
Evidence indicates that these schemes have the potential for a positive impact on oldage
poverty. Questions of affordability and feasibility need to be considered, but there
is a clear case to be made for developing further programmes and international
donors need to be prepared to give effective support.

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