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Pension Policy in Emerging Asian Economies with Population Ageing: What do we Know, Where Should we go?

Content pensioners enjoying a stroll

George Kudrna, Philip O'Keefe and John Piggott

Abstract: This paper reviews the current state of knowledge about pension policy and pension policy formulation in emerging economies undergoing demographic transition, and, with this background, indicated possible directions for future policy development. The countries we consider are primarily located in East and Southeast Asia, a region which is home to more than 30% of the world's population, and are characterised by increasing life expectancy, falling and /or low fertility ratios, immature social protection policy structures, high rates of informal employment, and in many cases, high rates of co-residency.

These features point to the relevance of strands of research which do not normally sit together in thinking about the evidence base for pension policy formulation and its impacts. They include fiscal implications; impacts on economic growth and intergenerational affordability; the relationship between alternative pension models and labour market (in)formality; the role of public benefits in the context of multi-generation households and intergenerational transfers; and the limitations of pension administration for older people who have worked in the informal sector for most or all of their lives.

The paper documents what we know about these various aspects of the issue and identifies knowledge gaps. On the basis of the evidence we do have, we indicate policy reform directions, in particular regarding development of social pensions directed to older people who have worked in the informal sector.

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