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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Spotlight on Children’s Social Protection

The 20 November is an important date for all children. On this date in 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. On the same date in 1989, the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is wholly fitting that it is now established as Universal Children’s Day.

In social security debates, the rights to social security of children are addressed often only in relation to their status as a dependant person vis-à-vis a covered parent or guardian. This is because of a common tendency to focus more readily on the rights of people of working age, or indeed of those who are no longer able to work. With greater policy attention now being given to the specific needs of children, this outlook is changing.

“On this Universal Children’s Day, we want to put the spotlight on the need to strengthen social protection for children, our future”, said Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, Secretary General of the International Social Security Association.

Current data suggest that the social protection coverage of children worldwide is low and highly uneven. The ILO report that almost two-thirds of children (1.3 billion) are not covered by any form of social protection.1 Global figures produced by the World Bank and UNICEF indicate that 385 million children live in extreme poverty, and 45 per cent of all children live below the $3.10 moderate poverty line.2

We know that such exposure to poverty has negative short-term effects on the development of children (on mortality, nutrition, health, education) and longer-term consequences on their longevity and quality of life as adults.

Cash transfers can be a solution

To achieve universal social protection and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (especially SDG 1.3), there is growing interest among governments worldwide in the potential of cash transfers to make a significant difference in the lives of children, especially when combined with quality social services.

It is against this background that an international conference on Universal Child Grants (UCGs) convened by UNICEF, the International Labour Organization and the Overseas Development Institute, will be held from 6–8 February 2019, at the International Labour Office in Geneva.

An important aim of the conference is to foster informed policy debate and decision-making with regards to cash transfers, social protection, targeting versus universalism, conditionality, policy financing and the objectives of reducing child poverty and improving wider outcomes for girls and boys.

Critical consideration will be given to the implementation of different types of cash transfers, their links to wider social policy (including in-kind transfers, universal education and health services, and tax policy), and implications for UCGs.

One important focus will be the identification of methods to ensure quality service delivery. For the ISSA, the importance of service quality in the delivery of social security protection is paramount, as underlined by recent work reported in its ground breaking publication Ten global challenges for social security.

An aim is for key research findings from the conference to be selected for publication in 2019 in a themed issue of the International Social Security Review.


1 ILO. 2017. World social protection report 2017-2019: Universal social protection to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Geneva.
2 World Bank; UNICEF. 2016. Ending extreme poverty: A focus on children. Washington, DC.