Research and Analysis by Barbara E. Kritzer
This article examines the recent reforms in individual account systems in Latin America, with a focus on the recent overhaul of the Chilean system and major reforms in Mexico, Peru, and Colombia. The authors analyze key elements of pension reform in the region relating to individual accounts: system coverage, fees, competition, investment, the impact of gender on benefits, financial education, voluntary savings, and payouts.
Since its inception in 1981, Chile's system of mandatory individual retirement accounts has become a model for pension reformers around the world. A March 2008 comprehensive pension reform law made major changes that address some key policy challenges including worker coverage, gender equity, pension adequacy, and administrative fees. The cornerstone of the new law sets up a basic universal pension as a supplement to the individual accounts system.
On July 1, 2007, New Zealand introduced KiwiSaver, a new subsidized retirement savings plan. All new entrants to the labor force and anyone starting a new job are automatically enrolled in a plan and may opt out if they wish. Anyone younger than age 65, including the self-employed and anyone not in the labor force, may choose to set up a KiwiSaver account. The government provides tax credits for both employer and account holder contributions, a one-time tax-free payment to each account, and an annual fee subsidy to defray administrative costs.
To date, more than 30 countries have established some form of individual accounts in their retirement systems. This article identifies those countries, categorizes how the individual accounts fit into their retirement income systems, and identifies some basic characteristics of the accounts. Because this analysis of individual accounts is intended to inform the current United States debate involving Social Security, the discussion is limited to countries in which such accounts are part or all of a mandatory retirement income program.
Chile was the first country to replace its public pay-as you-go system with individual accounts. Since its inception in 1981, the new program has undergone a number of changes that offer workers more choices than they had before. This note describes those changes, which include an increase in the type and number of funds from which a worker may choose for an individual account, more incentives for making additional voluntary contributions, and the introduction of a separate mandatory individual account for unemployment benefits.
The Latin American model of social security reform with individual accounts has been adopted by a number of Central and Eastern European countries. That alternative to a pay-as-you-go system is sometimes advocated as a desirable model for solving problems in developed systems such as that of the United States. This article describes the Central and Eastern European systems and compares them with the Latin American systems.
The new, partially privatized social security system adopted by Chile in 1981 has since been implemented, with some variations, in a number of Latin American and old-world transition economies with either a single- or multi-tier system. That alternative to a pay-as-you-go system is sometimes advocated as a desirable model for solving problems in developed systems, such as that of the United States. This article describes the new programs in Latin America, their background, and similarities and differences among them.
In 1981, Chile introduced a new approach to social insurance, a system of individual capitalization accounts financed solely by the employee. This new privatized system was an improvement over Chile's failing pay-as-you-go arrangement. As many countries worldwide are facing financial problems with their social security system, they are now looking to the Chilean model in trying to find solutions. This article describes the conditions that led to the new system, the transition, and details of the new privatized system.