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Social Security Beyond Pension Reform

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

This concluding essay expresses tempers optimism over possibilities for the
emergence of a new consensus on policies to address the needs of poor older people
world-wide as a prioritized element within wider strategies both to close the global
social security coverage gap and to reform the management and delivery of social
protection. However, it tempers this optimism with caution over prospects for their
easy implementation. This caution, in part, stems from the lasting implications of
the pensions reform agenda pursued from the mid-1990s which undermined the
principles and practice of state-managed contributory social security. Moreover,
implementation of ambitious, but also urgently needed, social pension reform
programmes designed to extend coverage radically by providing older people in even
the poorest countries with small, but regular, cash incomes will not be automatic,
and, given existing, well entrenched, donor approaches and arrangements, will
require significant amounts of new donor money to be found. Since remedial
programmes designed to address the global coverage crisis will be based on noncontributory
principles, their adoption threatens further to marginalize already
weakened contributory social security institutions. Particular care, therefore, needs
to be taken to involve the Geneva institutions if the new era of pension reform is not
to repeat the mistakes of its predecessor and, specifically, is to lead to the wider
reform and strengthening of social security provision world-wide.

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