Adequacy and sustainability of pension systems in the context of demographic ageing

The purpose of this paper is to inform discussions within the G20 G20 The Group of Twenty, or G20, is a forum for international cooperation on the most important aspects of the international economic and financial agenda. It brings together 19 countries and the European Union, which together represent around 90% of global GDP, 80% of global trade and two thirds of the world’s population. Employment Working Group on the topic of demographic ageing and its implications on social protection systems. The paper reviews several of the measures that States have taken with the intention of improving the sustainability of pension systems and evaluates their effectiveness. The paper highlights that many of the measures taken have had negative distributional impacts and have significantly compromised the primary function of pension systems: to provide a secure replacement income for people in old age and prevent their ability to fall into poverty.

While many governments and international institutions have framed pension reforms as an unescapable trade-off between adequacy and sustainability, unions insist that addressing the challenges of demographic ageing requires adopting a new overarching narrative, combining greater efforts to support labour market participation of excluded groups, enhanced revenue through progressive and innovative forms of taxation, and the guarantee of a decent income in retirement at the centre of this agenda.

Adequacy and sustainability of pension systems in the context of demographic ageing