1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development

The Political Economy of Social Pension Reform in Asia


The Political Economy of Social Pension Reform in Asia
Social pensions are expanding in rapidly ageing Asia as a means to protect older persons from poverty and social exclusion. Although social pensions are widely viewed as useful instruments to reduce old-age poverty and to include those traditionally excluded from contributory pension insurance, little attention has been paid to why certain initiatives get onto political agendas, who or what drives reform, and which factors determine the nature of reform or whether proposed reforms are implemented and consolidated, particularly in the Asian context.

One way to understand the drivers of social policy reform is to analyse them in relation to the broader development and welfare regime of each country, with several external and internal factors and actors influencing the feasibility and results of reform processes. Important variables to consider in such an analysis include: relevant actors and their strategies—for example, policy makers, advocacy groups and NGOs, external donors or international organizations; contextual variables such as the economic, political and social system and demographic trends; and conjunctural variables such as external shocks and crises.

This one-page brief is based on a chapter by Katja Hujo and Sarah Cook in Social Protection for Older People in Asia, published by the Asian Development Bank in 2012. The brief is jointly published by the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth, the Asian Development Bank and UNRISD.