Protecting the old in a young economy: old age insurance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

Taking the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a reference point, this paper looks at social protection in developing economies, which are beset by economic stagnation, widespread poverty and unemployment. If the main breadwinner dies, is unable to work or is an older person, these factors are prime causes of absolute poverty. This is hardly surprising, since private and public systems of social security are totally inadequate in this area in particular. Current thinking on social security suggests that what is needed is the rapid introduction of a comprehensive system of retirement provision, comprising a mandatory capital-funded insurance component, with defined contributions, administered on a decentralized basis; and a state-administered pay-as-you-go basic insurance component with lump-sum transfers to safeguard the poorest. A system of this kind works to prevent poverty in old age by redistributing funds from some individuals to others and ensuring an income for life, and it represents a compromise between a fair return on what people have contributed and a fair distribution over society as a whole. It is thus a major force for stability in society.