Portability Regimes of Pension and Health Care Benefits for International Migrants: An Analysis of Issues and Good Practices

The paper provides a first investigation into the portability of pension and health care benefits for international migrants. It is based on available literature and newly minted data, but more importantly on selective case studies from main migrant-sending and receiving countries. While exploratory, the paper achieves a better understanding of the realities on the ground and is able to distill key issues as well as identify good and best practices. The main conclusions include the following: First, only around 20 percent of migrants worldwide work in host countries where full portability of pension benefits, but not necessarily of health care benefits, to their home countries is ensured. Second, bilateral agreements are seemingly the current best practice to ensure portability for pension and health care benefits, although for the latter this is not always the case. Third, more actuarial-type structures should help to enhance portability. This is, in principle, straightforward for pensions and a defined contribution-type design. It is much more complicated for health care benefits. Last but not least, for improved benefit design and implementation, the information base needs to be broadened, including through more country case studies and tracer studies of migrants.