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What is the Role of Social Pensions in Asia?


  • Armando Barrientos

    (Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI))


Rapid population ageing and economic transformation in Asia raise the policy challenge of ensuring income security in old age. There is growing interest among policymakers in the potential role of noncontributory transfers as an instrument to address a variety of policy challenges, including old age poverty and vulnerability, rapid population ageing, the effects of migration on intergenerational family support structures, and the effects of informality on social protection systems. The main objective of this paper is to explore the potential role of social pensions and other noncontributory schemes in Asia, informed by insights from theory and international experience. The paper identifies alternative forms of providing income security in old age, including social pensions. It also examines the welfare effects of adopting alternative social pension designs, especially around two key policy nodes : the comparative advantages of social assistance and social pensions, and the integration of noncontributory transfers within advanced contributory pension schemes.

Suggested Citation

  • Armando Barrientos, 2012. "What is the Role of Social Pensions in Asia?," Labor Economics Working Papers 23294, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:eab:laborw:23294

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    Cited by:

    1. World Bank, 2016. "Republic of the Philippines Review of the Social Security System," World Bank Other Operational Studies 24671, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Social pension; Asia; population aging; income security; economic transformation; pension scheme;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements


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