Defining Eligibility for Social Pensions: A View from a Social Assistance Perspective

Developing and low-income countries around the world have been unable to provide old-age income security to all through contributory pensions. Neither reforms to pension systems nor general growth and development have helped countries to increase coverage much. In frustration, many countries are considering or have implemented non-contributory social pensions, aiming to reduce poverty and vulnerability among the elderly. It is therefore important to consider how such programs fit into social assistance programming. This note discusses the horizontal equity of programs that are solely for the elderly and the option of targeting such programs differently. It then sheds empirical light on the issue with simulations based on data from the Kyrgyz Republic, Niger, Panama and Yemen.