153.2 Towards universal protection for older adults? The expansion of old age pensions in Latin America

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 2:50 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Camila ARZA , Latin American School of Social Sciences, Argentina
In Latin America, old-age social protection systems have followed the social insurance model attaching rights to contribution history. In largely informal economies, this model resulted in a segmented system of welfare protection. Workers and families outside the formal labour market lacked protection for the risks of old age, unemployment and sickness, typically covered in social insurance system for formal workers. Over the 1990s, the privatization of pension schemes strengthened the contributory logic of existing systems but replaced social insurance for individual savings. By and large, it did not help expand social protection rights in the region. After over a decade of structural pension reforms the limitations of existing arrangements to include the majority of the population have become an issue of concern for policymakers and policy analysts alike. In recent years, through various institutional designs and contrasting political processes, a number of Latin American countries have initiated a pathway towards the extension of old-age pension benefits to the population who were left unprotected. In Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, different reform models have expanded coverage to a significant number of elder adults who became subjects of public attention. Has this process headed towards the expansion of social citizenship rights for the people of Latin American? Are these new developments leading to unconditional basic income protection for the elderly in Latin America? Will these policy innovations modify the social insurance paradigm on which Latin American social protection has traditionally been based? By examining the institutional features guiding the distribution of rights, resources and risks embedded in these new policies of old age income protection, the paper evaluates the extent to which recent developments could lead to enhancing social citizenship rights for the elderly in Latin America, replacing the social insurance paradigm with a new paradigm more closely connected to basic universalism.