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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Abstracts (October-December 2019, Volume 72, Issue 4)
The old-age pension law in Mexico: The promise of poverty in old age?
In 1997, Mexico replaced its main old-age pension system with an individual capitalization system. In 2021, the first people subject to the new system will retire. Using a model that projects demographic and labour variables and using Monte Carlo simulations, the findings of this study show that in 2051 the percentage of men not having a pension will increase from 38 per cent to 59 per cent, and that of women from 44 per cent to 66 per cent. The replacement rate for the average Mexican worker will fall from 70 per cent to 30 per cent. The numbers of people in extreme poverty will increase by almost 2.8 million, representing 9.44 per cent of the population. Alternative scenarios are proposed that involve increasing the contribution rate and raising the retirement age.
Youth-oriented active labour market policies and economic crisis: Explaining policy effort in Greece and Portugal
The starting point of this study is the implementation of seemingly similar youth-oriented labour market policies in Greece and Portugal. Both countries have suffered high youth unemployment rates and have been pressured to restructure their labour market as part of the rescue programmes adopted during the European sovereign debt crisis. Despite convergence in terms of policy trajectories, there is a significant divergence in employment outcomes. In Portugal, youth-oriented policies were better-targeted and structured. Their implementation has been more effective and has involved the social partners from the outset of the crisis. In Greece, policy design failures, administrative weaknesses and unfavourable macroeconomic conditions have limited the dynamics of youth-oriented policies thus increasing youth insecurity. Τhis antithesis suggests that convergence in policy content can be compatible with divergence in terms of outcomes.
Biometric technology and beneficiary rights in social protection programmes
Over the past decade, the use of biometric technology in the identification and authentication of beneficiaries of social protection programmes has increased. However, there has been little debate among governments, donors and civil society organizations on the potential implications of this technology in relation to the inclusion of the most vulnerable sectors of the population, as well as for security and the protection of privacy and personal data. This article aims to fill that gap. First, the article reviews how biometric technology is used in various social protection programmes around the world. Then, it examines the potential risks and challenges of deploying biometric technology in social protection programmes. Finally, it assesses the requirements necessary to ensure that biometric technology is implemented in compliance with international law standards. The focus is on developing countries, where the use of biometric technology in identification systems has increased considerably in recent years. Among the key conclusions of the article is that the adoption of biometric technology, often encouraged by donors, needs to be preceded by democratic debate where all alternatives are discussed. The adoption of this technology should be accompanied by a context-specific assessment of risks, and the adoption of an appropriate legal and institutional framework to protect rights and ensure that the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the population are not excluded.
Extending access to contributory pensions: The case of Uruguay
Since the 1980s, many Latin American countries have tightened access to contributory pensions, with financial sustainability being a main concern. Studies suggest that a sizable share of contributors would not be able to comply with stricter access conditions, since observed contribution densities were low. While most Latin American countries lack complete work history records, the observed density of contributions offered strong evidence of short contribution histories, in particular for low-income workers and women. In the last decade these facts drove a new wave of reforms, in the form of less demanding eligibility requirements to access pensions and the need for a gender perspective. Uruguay took part in both processes, increasing vesting period conditions in 1996, then lowering them and granting childcare credits in 2008. In this article, we analyse the effects that less strict eligibility requirements would have on pension entitlements in Uruguay, estimating complete contribution histories using administrative records. Work history records have been kept since April 1996 only, meaning there are still no complete work histories. The study finds that pension rights would increase, in particular for women. The main effect would be driven by the lower contribution requirement. In addition, childcare credits would further reduce the gender gap in terms of access to benefits. The case of Uruguay is relevant in the regional context, as most Latin American countries are ageing rapidly and can learn from the Uruguayan experience, a country with vital statistics closer to those of developed countries. Also, recent reforms in the region show shared concerns on pension rights and the gender gap.
Microinsurance: A short history
Twenty years ago, the International Social Security Review published an article that introduced a new term to the vocabulary of development and social protection: Microinsurance. Now, twenty years later, it is suitable to take stock of the contribution of microinsurance towards promoting coverage and social security. The article reviews the main insights gained from 20 years of implementation, including a clear expression of the value proposition of health microinsurance, understanding the demand for microinsurance, the business process for successful implementation, and conditions that must be satisfied for scaling and sustainable operations. It also explains the context that led to a considerable divergence in the microinsurance space. The article offers a discussion of unresolved issues and thoughts about the future of microinsurance. The conclusion of this article is that microinsurance can flourish when the necessary four pillars for its implementation exist, namely mainstreaming through political support, enhanced insurance literacy of the customers, technical assistance to self-administer the schemes, and availability of seed capital. The sufficient additional condition is that customers perceive microinsurance as offering welfare gains that cannot be obtained by other means.
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.