International Social Security Review International Social Security Review

First published in 1948, the International Social Security Review is the principal international quarterly publication in the field of social security.

Articles by leading social security experts present international comparisons and in-depth discussions of topical questions and studies of social security systems in different countries.

ISSA member organizations can freely access the complete current issue of the Review in English and previous issues in the electronic archive (since 1967 for articles published in English; for 2007-2013 for articles published in French, German and Spanish) via My ISSA.

Commencing in 2014, the International Social Security Review is published in English only, and abstracts of all new articles are available in eight languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

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With the creation of an online publications platform by the international publishing house Wiley, online access to articles published in the International Social Security Review  since 1967 is available to subscribers.

Consult a free sample issue of the International Social Security Review online, or visit Wiley Online Library to browse contents and abstracts of all issues. For further information on how to access the articles please visit Wiley's Librarian Site.

Abstracts (current issue: January-Mars 2019, Volume 72, Issue 4)

Koen Caminada, Kees Goudswaard, Chen Wang and Jinxian Wang

Has the redistributive effect of social transfers and taxes changed over time across countries?

In most Member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD), the income gap between rich and poor has widened over the past decades. This article analyses whether and to what extent income taxes and social transfers have contributed to this trend. Has the redistributive impact of different social programmes changed over time? We use microdata from the LIS Cross National Data Center in Luxembourg for the period 1982–2014 and study both the total population and the working-age population. In contrast to the results of some other studies, especially by the OECD, we do not find that redistribution has declined. Tax-benefit systems around 2013 are more effective at reducing income inequality compared to the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, especially among the total population. Changes in social programmes are not a driver of greater income inequality across the countries included in this study.


Magnus Piirits and Andres Võrk

The effects on intra-generational inequality of introducing a funded pension scheme: A microsimulation analysis for Estonia

This article uses a single male cohort microsimulation model to analyse the intra-generational and distributional effects of a shift in Estonia from a defined benefit pay-as-you-go (PAYG) pension system to a multi-pillared system with a PAYG scheme with contribution-based insurance components and a funded pension scheme. We contribute to the literature on microsimulation by showing how introducing contribution-based insurance components and compulsory defined contribution (DC) schemes can increase pension inequality. Our results show that in the case of a high level of inequality in labour earnings and high long-term unemployment rates, such as in Estonia, the introduction of a very strong link between contributions and future benefits leads to considerably higher inequality in pension incomes as measured by the Gini coefficient. Simulation results for Estonia suggest that inequality in old-age pension incomes more than doubles when the reforms mature. In contrast, the inequality in replacement rates decreases.


Lena M. Banks, Matthew Walsham, Hoang Van Minh, Doan Thi Thuy Duong, Tran Thu Ngan, Vu Quynh Mai, Karl Blanche* and Hannah Kuper

Access to social protection among people with disabilities: Evidence from Viet Nam

Although people with disabilities are frequently targeted as key beneficiaries of social protection, little is known on their access to existing programmes. This study uses mixed methods to explore participation in disability-targeted and non-targeted social protection programmes in Viet Nam, particularly in the district of Cam Le. In this district, social assistance and health insurance coverage among people with disabilities was 53 per cent and 96 per cent respectively. However, few accessed employment-linked social insurance and other disability-targeted benefits (e.g. vocational training, transportation discounts). Factors affecting access included the accessibility of the application process, disability assessment procedures, awareness and the perceived utility of programmes, and attitudes on disability and social protection.


José Alves, Daniela Craveiro, Maria Teresa Garcia and Paula Albuquerque

The impact of international migration on the public pension system: The case of Portugal

This article analyses the impact of replacement migration on the financial sustainability of the old-age pension system in Portugal, a country with one of the largest ageing populations in Europe. We do this using demographic forecasts and prospective exercises for the evolution of the Portuguese economy. During the 2015–2060 period, our results evidence the positive impacts of international migration on old-age pension system financial balances, reaching over 3 per cent of GDP after 2045. Moreover, even when taking into considering the low dynamics for the Portuguese economy, replacement migration is an important input to improve pension system financial sustainability.


Milva Geri, Mariana de Santis and Nebel Moscoso

Inequity in access to the Argentinian pension system (1994-2017)

Pension coverage in Argentina is inequitably distributed between different income levels, both during working years and during retirement. The objective of the article is to study the evolution of inequity of access to the Argentinian pension system in terms of its association with the socio-economic status of individuals during the period 1994–2017. An evaluation is offered of how variables such as sex, age, and educational attainment influence such inequity. It is concluded that, although the level of average coverage increased, inequity of access increased significantly in the years following the 1994 reform, both among the active and the inactive population. However, inequity of access among active persons did not improve substantially with the return to the pay-as-you-go pension system, while it was considerably reduced among the inactive population. While the former are found to be affected to a greater extent in terms of coverage as a result of the pro-educated bias among the active population, the latter outcome is thought to be a direct result of the transitory plans for pension inclusion, after which inequity was to resume its upward course.


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ACT2018: A broader role for actuaries in shaping social security

Actuaries, statisticians and investment specialists are playing an ever expanding role in social security and society. This was a key take home message from the 19th ISSA International Conference of Social Security Actuaries, Statisticians and Investment Specialists (ACT 2018), which took place in Kuwait City, Kuwait from 6-8 November.

The ACT 2018 event, which brought together over 250 participants from 90 institutions and 57 countries, was hosted by the Public Institution for Social Security of Kuwait. Speakers from the actuarial profession, the ISSA General Secretariat and its member organizations and the International Labour Office (ILO) highlighted the important role of actuaries in the valuation of systems as well as in risk management, investment and system design and financing.

“As sustainability challenges remain a key concern for social security systems, the conference highlights the growing role of actuaries in investment and risk management,” affirmed ISSA Secretary General Hans-Horst Konkolewsky.

The conference was an opportunity to place the role of actuaries, as well as statisticians and investment specialists, into a wider context of social security and societal developments. Actuaries play an increasingly important role in different policy, design, investment and financing decisions. Dominique La Salle, Director for Social Security Development at the ISSA, emphasized that by taking a lifelong, people centric approach to social security, the actuarial profession can help drive innovation to improve people’s lives. The ISSA supports its member organizations in these areas with guidelines, workshops and other resources through its Centre for Excellence.

Observing trends and good practices

One session of ACT 2018 was dedicated to a special issue of the International Social Security Review (Vol. 71, No. 3), the content of which addresses the question of the actuarial and financial reporting of social security obligations. Jean-Claude Ménard, Chair of the ISSA Technical Commission on the Statistical, Actuarial and Financial Studies, underlined that the actuarial profession plays a central role in the financial evaluation of social security systems. Therefore, it is imperative for actuaries to contribute to shaping the debate on quantifying and reporting social security obligations. This session touched on issues related to intergenerational equity, sustainability and adequacy and also highlighted the practical use of ISSA-ILO Guidelines on Actuarial Work for Social Security.

Other sessions at the Conference included a regional review of pension reform trends, investment practice and mortality experience, which underlined the reform options in a rapidly changing context; the impact of ageing on social security systems; the changing labour market and implications for employment injury and pension systems; the role of actuaries in financing and design decisions; and investment management in an era of ageing populations and low interest rates. The sessions included examples and good practices from ISSA member organizations, and presentations from experts in the field.