Social protection floors and pension systems: the role of a "citizen's pension"

Social protection floors and pension systems: the role of a "citizen's pension"

There is increasing recognition of the role of social protection floors in eradicating poverty, reducing inequality and sustaining equitable economic growth in developing countries. Income security in old age is a core element of a social protection floor, yet discussion around extending such floors has been largely separate from parallel debates about the expansion and reform of pension systems.

At both national and international levels, pensions and retirement tend to be discussed among a different set of actors from those involved in social protection as a development issue. This briefing makes the link between social protection floors and pension systems, and introduces the concept of a “citizen’s pension” as a particularly relevant approach in developing countries.

A “citizen’s pension” is a guaranteed minimum income in old age based on citizenship/residency rather than previous formal contributions. A citizen’s pension must be legislated, adequate and regular.

This briefing argues that concept of a social protection floor  - a system that guarantees income security and access to basic services throughout the life course - is gaining increasing currency as a way of prioritising the extension and reform of social protection systems. Pensions have a distinct and important place in a wider social protection floor, and a pension system that guarantees income security in old age can be designed in different ways.