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: April-June 2019, Volume 72, Issue 2)

Elaine Fultz, Kenichi Hirose

Second‐pillar pensions in Central and Eastern Europe: Payment constraints and exit options

During 1998–2007, a majority of Central and Eastern European (CEE) governments enacted laws obligating workers to save for retirement in privately managed individual accounts. The governments funded these accounts with a portion of public pension revenues, thus creating or increasing deficits in public systems. After the onset of the global financial and economic crisis (2008), most CEE governments reduced these funding diversions and scaled back the accounts. Now, a decade after the crisis, this article examines the benefits that the accounts are beginning to pay retiring workers. In general, these benefits are shown to be disadvantageous compared with public pensions. Some pay lump sums in lieu of regular monthly benefits, most fail to adjust pensions regularly for inflation, and some pay women less than men with equal account balances. In several countries, pensioners with individual accounts receive lower benefits than those without them. To enable retiring workers to avoid these disadvantages, several CEE governments have allowed them to refund their account balances and receive full public pensions. Yet while this strategy diffuses worker dissatisfaction, it also places strains on public pension finance. To assist second‐pillar account holders without weakening public pensions, governments should consider making private pension savings voluntary and financing these schemes independently of public pensions – i.e. by worker and employer contributions and, possibly, direct state support.

Denis Latulippe and Florence Fontaine

Effective retirement age from employment and full‐time employment, and the impact of the 2008 crisis

Estimates of effective retirement age based on labour force participation rates are commonly used for actuarial experience review and policy development. However, the transition from work to retirement and the socio-economic environment have evolved over the years, influenced by a growing role for gradual retirement and the labour market impact of the 2008 economic crisis. Rather than focusing exclusively on retirement ages based on labour force participation rates, this article presents complementary estimates of retirement ages to better assess the effective retirement age from employment. It also introduces the concept of retirement from full-time employment, showing that the retirement age from full-time employment is systematically lower than the retirement age from employment. The results reveal that the trend towards an increase in the retirement age has been impacted by economic conditions when considering the effective employment of older workers. Results are presented for different Member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development over the period 2005–2015.

Gyu-Jin Hwang

How fair are unemployment benefits? The experience of East Asia

Despite an increasing emphasis on active labour market measures, unemployment benefits still remain a focal point of employment protection. This article takes the cases of four East Asian economies – China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan (China) –, which are often characterized as having welfare states with a strong developmental and productivist orientation, to investigate whether, as is sometimes argued, unemployment benefits are restrictive and exclusionary. In doing so, it examines the logic behind the design of unemployment benefits and argues that they are in fact progressive in design and fair when they pay out. Nonetheless, low effective coverage and low benefit rates weaken their redistribution and compensation objectives.

Daniel Castillo

Employer-oriented labour market policies in Sweden: Creating jobs and the division of labour in the public sector

In many European countries, greater importance is accorded to labour market policies in which employers are involved in activating unemployed people. Such employer-oriented policies target employers’ demand for labour and attempt to influence their willingness to hire, train or guide (often disadvantaged) unemployed groups. Using data from a qualitative interview study of an employer-oriented programme in a medium-size city in Sweden, the present article aims to develop knowledge about how these policies are used to influence employers to hire unemployed workers and how jobs created in this context differ from regular jobs. The article argues that creating jobs through new arrangements for the division of labour, with the promise of relieving regular staff of unskilled tasks, may influence employers’ willingness to hire the unemployed when used alongside other kinds of policy instruments. However, the article also shows that this new division of labour, with programme participants performing mainly unskilled tasks, has been difficult to realize, as new staff gradually come to perform an increasing number of regular working tasks.

Soonman Kwon and Lundy Keo

Social health protection in Cambodia: Challenges of policy design and implementation

The Government of Cambodia is implementing ambitious reform initiatives to improve the country’s social health protection system. In January 2018, it was announced that the Health Equity Fund (HEF), which is fully subsidized by a joint government-donor initiative for the reimbursement of user fees for the poor at public health facilities, is to be expanded to some segments of informal workers belonging to associations, as well as to commune and village chiefs. Since 2017, the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has provided social health insurance for formal economy workers in enterprises with eight employees or more. In January 2018, it was expanded to civil servants and all employees regardless of the size of the enterprise. However, this article highlights that the new ambitious reforms are not accompanied by careful planning as regards funding, service delivery, human resources and institutional design. This article therefore aims to examine key policy issues and challenges for Cambodia’s ambitious reform of its social health protection system in terms of resource generation, population coverage, strategic purchasing and governance.

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Belgium wins social security award for Europe

(Baku, Azerbaijan) The public social security institutions of Belgium have been awarded the ISSA Good Practice Award for Europe for digitizing and automating their services.

The Auxiliary Unemployment Benefits Funds (CAPAC) of Belgium received the award on behalf of the public social security institutions of Belgium at the ISSA Regional Social Security Forum for Europe in Baku, Azerbaijan. The International Social Security Association (ISSA) organizes the regional forum and competition every three years. An international jury selected the Belgian entry from among 76 good practices submitted by 25 social security institutions from 20 European countries.

“Making use of technology to improve the efficiency and service delivery is key to the strengthening of social security. Belgium has led the way in digitalization and automation and its institutions have truly merited the ISSA Good Practice Award for Europe”, said Marcelo Abi-Ramia Caetano, Secretary General of the ISSA.

Success through digitization and automation

Celebrating 75 years of social security in Belgium in 2019, the country’s social security institutions built on decades of experience as they embarked on an extensive modernization process to prepare for the future.

“Thanks to a joint effort by many organisations, a maximum number of social benefits are now automatically granted, without citizens or their employers having to make declarations anymore. The digitalization and automation of social security services in Belgium is a win-win for social security institutions, employers and citizens. Receiving the ISSA Good Practice Award for Europe is a great recognition of this important work”, said Jean-Marc Vandenbergh, Director General of the Auxiliary Unemployment Benefits Funds.

Some 3,000 actors in the Belgian social sector were involved in this major re-engineering project to ensure that a maximum number of social benefits and subsidiary rights are granted automatically. In total, 800 paper forms have been replaced by 220 electronic processes, and more than a billion paper-based exchanges have been replaced by electronic messages. The administrative burden for citizens, companies, and institutions has been drastically reduced, and the new system is expected to save employers EUR 1 billion annually.

Belgium will host the ISSA World Social Security Forum in Brussels from 14–18 October 2019, as part of its national celebration of 75 years of social security.

Special Mention given to good practices from 11 countries

The international Jury also awarded Certificates of Merit with a Special Mention from the Jury to 17 good practices from 12 institutions in 11 European countries:

Austria: Federation of Austrian Social Insurance Institutions

  • Prevention and rehabilitation of occupational skin diseases – BK 19

Azerbaijan: State Social Protection Fund under the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Azerbaijan

  • Unified subsystem for electronic application and assignment of targeted state social aid

Belgium: National Employment Office

  • 100 per cent digital customer service for career break programmes
  • Development of a diversity code and creation of the “respect tool”
  • The New Way of Working at ONEM

Finland: Social Insurance Institution

  • The Kela Tips: An innovative communication concept for the social media era

France: National Family Allowances Fund

  • Coverage extension: The fight against non-take-up of benefits

Germany: German Federal Pension Insurance

  • Medically and Professionally-Oriented Rehabilitation (MPOR)

Germany: German Social Accident Insurance

  • “Die Goldene Hand”: Prevention prize of the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the trade and logistics industry (BGHW)

Ireland: Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

  • Customer satisfaction surveys: Listening to the voice of the customer
  • Treatment benefit reform and transformation to digital delivery

Malta: Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity

  • Making work pay

Poland: Social Insurance Institution

  • Implementation of only-electronic medical certificates of incapacity for work
  • Implementation of the Retirement Counsellor Service
  • Mystery Shopping research in the area of customer service

Sweden: Swedish Pensions Agency

  • A guide for those left behind

Turkey: Social Security Institution

  • Registration by SMS of employees who work less than ten days in home services


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