The report, titled ‘Population Aging: Is Latin America Ready?’, focuses on the demographic changes in Latin America and covers a number of topics such as old-age poverty, pensions, health care policy, and living arrangements for the aged.
Life expectancy in Latin America has jumped by 22 years in the last half-century, and is projected to reach 76.3 years by 2025. The overall population in the Latin American region has tripled since 1950, and fertility and child mortality have decreased by more than 50%. Latin America´s population is now dominated by working adults with fewer children.
Despite pension reform throughout the Latin American region, generally less than 40% of the older population is covered by a public pension system. As a result, several countries are trying to increase coverage with reforms such as the introduction of non-contributory social pensions and minimum pension guarantees for those workers who have made some contributions.
However, given the economic reality of most Latin American countries, meeting the needs of a rapidly growing old-age population is a great challenge. Although the government plays a significant role in responding to the structural changes in society, something else should be done. In the long run, pension coverage needs to cover more people, especially those who work off the radar in the informal jobs market where government regulations and protections just don’t apply.
The WorldBank report analyzes the impact of existing pension systems on poverty in the region. Among the "pro-aging" countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay) where pensions are the highest in the region, the poverty rate for the older (aged 60 or older) population is much lower than the other segments of the population. In contrast, in Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico where benefits are low, the older segment of the population has the highest poverty rate. As a result, several countries are trying to increase coverage with reforms such as the introduction of non-contributory social pensions and minimum pension guarantees for those workers who have made some contributions.
The WorldBank concludes that the issues related to population ageng in Latin America can only be countered by crafting a new social agenda for Latin America, which needs to incorporate the challenges of the growing ageng population. Appropriate measures to address the structural change of the total population should be taken as soon as possible.