Reforming the pension system to increase coverage and equity

Colombia is one of the most unequal countries in Latin America. The high level of informality in the labour market and many characteristics of the pension system leave many elderly in poverty. Only formal-sector employees earning more than the relatively high minimum wage are covered. Linking benefits to at least the minimum wage makes the system costly and reduces the provision of annuities by insurance companies as it is difficult to insure against changes in the minimum wage. The Government has recently introduced a matching-contribution scheme (BEPS) for informal workers and vulnerable retiring aged people who have not contributed enough to be entitled to a pension. Moreover, the coverage of the old-age minimum income support has been extended but at the cost of lowering the already modest benefits. More reforms in the pension system are needed to extend coverage while eligibility to the BEPS and the minimum income support should be expanded to guarantee old-age income for more Colombians. In the medium term an in-depth pension reform is required.

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