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The Gender Impact of Social Security Reform

As populations age and revenues diminish, government and private pension funds around the world are facing insolvency. The looming social security crisis is especially dire for women, who live longer than men but have worked less in the formal labor force. This groundbreaking study examines alternative social security systems and their disparate impacts on men and women. Emphasis is placed on the new multi-pillar systems that combine a publicly managed benefit and a mandatory private retirement saving plan.

The Gender Impact of Social Security Reform compares the gendered outcomes of social security systems in Chile, Argentina, and Mexico, and presents empirical findings from Eastern and Central European transition economies as well as several OECD countries. Women’s positions have improved relative to men in countries where joint pensions have been required, widows who have worked can keep the joint pension in addition to their own benefit, the public benefit has been targeted toward low earners, and women’s retirement age has been raised to equality with that of men. The Gender Impact of Social Security Reform will force economists and policy makers to reexamine the design features that enable social security systems to achieve desirable gender outcomes.


“This book provides a detailed analysis of how men and women are faring under the new pension systems in three Latin American countries with recent reforms. The cross-national nature of the study, along with the way in which the authors conduct their analysis and discuss the results, will allow readers to draw many useful conclusions about how policy choices affect pension outcomes for women and men. The Gender Impact of Social Security Reform has important lessons for analysts, policy makers, and interested lay people in all countries that have enacted or are considering enacting reforms.”

Courtney Coile, Wellesley College

“Changes in longevity and fertility, and persistent increases in healthcare costs, are driving us rapidly toward solvency crises in our entitlement programs. As we confront necessities for reform, experience from other countries can suggest options and evidence of what may work. The Gender Impact of Social Security Reform contributes very knowledgeable and in-depth discussions of Social Security reform in Chile, Argentina, and Mexico—paying particular attention to the changing needs and economic roles of women.”

John Laitner, director of the Michigan Retirement Research Center and professor of economics at the University of Michigan

Table of Contents



One / Why Do Social Security Systems and Social Security Reforms Have a Gender Impact?

Two / Living Arrangements and Standards of Elderly Men and Women

Three / How Do We Measure the Impact of Social Security Systems and Reforms?

Four / Chile

Five / Argentina

Six / Mexico

Seven / Gender Issues in Social Security Reforms of Other Regions

Eight / Design Features That Determine Gender Outcomes

Nine / Conclusion




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