Archive for the ‘Pensions’ Category

Kenya launches universal pensions

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Beginning this month – January 2018 – every resident of Kenya over the age of 70 years is entitled to a pension funded solely by general government revenue. The pension is modest, and the age of entitlement is high, but it is an excellent beginning. Previously, only 240,000 of the 390,000 Kenyan citizens over 70 years of age received means-tested, targeted pension benefits. Targeting will continue for social pensions given to persons between the ages of 65 and 69 years. (more…)

social pensions in Myanmar

Friday, December 29th, 2017

Social pensions in Myanmar are tiny, and provided to fewer than 40,000 older persons. The country is taking modest steps to increase the size and coverage of pensions. Much remains to be done. (more…)

social pensions in the Philippines

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

The city of San Fernando, in the Philippines, is an excellent example of how NOT to support older persons. According to a recent newspaper article, “The city is a pioneer is providing free movie access in various malls here as well as ensuring yearly programs and activities for seniors.”

Free movies and social activities, however, do not substitute for cash benefits. The requirements to qualify for a social pension in San Fernando are clearly designed to stigmatize rather than encourage participation. (more…)

social pensions in India

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

India, in theory if not in practice, provides social (non-contributory) pensions for all residents older than 60 years who live in families poor enough to be listed as BPL (below poverty line). The social pension, known as the “Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme” (IGNOAPS) provides beneficiaries aged 60–79 a monthly pension of Rs 300 (US$4.60). Those 80 years and older are entitled to monthly benefits of Rs 750 (US$11.50). (more…)

longevity insurance (annuities)

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Here is excellent advice from a British expert in personal finance. Longevity risk – the risk of outliving one’s savings – is underestimated or ignored by many.

[T]he most important type of risk that most people fail to buy insurance against is living too long — longevity risk. Many people are now shunning using at least some of their pension fund to buy a level or inflation protected guaranteed annuity, because they focus on the perceived poor value of annuities, compared with the rates on offer 10 years ago.

Jason Butler, “Insurance — a vital component of financial planning”, Financial Times, 3 August 2017 (gated paywall).

means tests are taxes: Canadian edition

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Canada provides persons from age 65 with a Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS, currently C$871.86 a month for a single person), but claws it back at the steep rate of 50% from other income. There is no exempt amount, and some provinces add to this. The provincial claw back in Alberta, for example, is 18%, bringing the total rate of claw back to 68%.

Canada also provides residents from age 65 with an Old Age Pension (currently a maximum of $585 a month for a single person) that is reduced (clawed back) at the rate of 15% from taxable income in excess of $74,788 a year, so is equivalent to an increase in income tax of 15 percentage points for high income older persons until the full Old Age Pension is recovered. Receipt of the Old Age Pension does not count as income for a GIS.

Why do government policymakers in Canada implicitly tax the income of older persons at a higher rate than of younger persons with the same incomes? Perhaps they do not realize that means tests (clawbacks) are taxes. Simultaneously, though, the government has programmes in place to encourage workers to save for old age, to build up a retirement fund that is subjected to a high rate of taxation in old age. This puzzles me.

Canada also mandates contributions to a state pension, known as Canada Pension Plan. Canadian actuary Robert Brown, in a useful article, explains why increasing the contributions to (and benefits from) this plan harms contributors with low incomes, because it causes them to lose benefits that they would otherwise receive from the Guaranteed Income Supplement. He doesn’t mention this, but taxpayers with high incomes also lose benefits from expansion of the noncontributory Old Age Pension. No doubt he assumes (most likely correctly) that those with high incomes can look after themselves! Also, $585 a month is small change for someone with an income in excess of $6,200 a month. (more…)

good news for social pensioners in Fiji

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

The government has increased the Social Pension Scheme allocation from fourteen million dollars to thirty seven million dollars.

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa says …

”We are really grateful that the government has considered as being one of the increases and it’s a notable increase from $50 to $100 [about 50 US dollars] per pensioner so I’m sure there will be a lot of happy pensioners out there come 1st August.”

All persons under the Social Pension Scheme will now receive $100 and the eligibility age has been lowered [from 68] to 65 years.

Sainiani Boila, “Pension scheme allocation increases to $37m“, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, 6 July 2017.

The Social Pension Scheme is means-tested assistance that targets older persons with no other source of income. The pension is small, but much better than the previous benefit of 50 Fijan dollars a month. The budgeted amount is sufficient to provide pensions to more than 30,000 older persons.

 

Hong Kong changes leaders

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

… but not policies. Plans for a universal pension, in particular, will not be implemented, nor even debated, by the Legislative Council.

A long-forgotten peace resumed in the Legislative Council on Wednesday as the city’s new leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor attended her first question-and-answer session ….

While radical lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung was again ousted from the chamber as he protested against Lam for not implementing a universal pension scheme, lawmakers from both sides agreed the meeting was more constructive and peaceful than those attended by Lam’s predecessor Leung Chun-ying. ….

But not all people were happy.

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung feared the [pan-democrat] camp would become more passive – or even be dismantled.

Jeffie Lam and Kimmy Chung, “Peace returns to Hong Kong’s legislature as new leader Carrie Lam attends first session – but how long will honeymoon last?“, South China Morning Post, 6 July 2017.

UBI in poor countries

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

This is a great column. Mr Sandu does not mention it, but a universal pension is also good for poor countries (and wealthy countries as well). A universal pension, after all, is a universal basic income (UBI) limited to older folks and younger persons with disabilities.

[T]he debate in rich countries tends, naturally enough, to focus on the affordability and desirability of UBI in rich countries. But there is much to learn — for rich countries, too — about whether UBI would make sense in poorer ones. The answer is, perhaps paradoxically, that there is a good case for low-income countries to leapfrog the rich world in welfare policy.

John McArthur asks how many poor countries could afford to pay a UBI large enough to eradicate extreme poverty. The answer is stunning: 66 countries could do this at a cost of no more than 1 per cent of their national income. Doing so would lift 185m people out of extreme poverty, a quarter of the global total. A further 25 countries could do the same at a cost of between 1 and 5 five per cent of national income, eradicating extreme poverty for another 150m people. ….

UBI is the new frontier in welfare reform. At the moment it looks more likely to be conquered by the developing world, while countries known as advanced economies look on from behind.

Martin Sandbu, “Leapfrogging to universal basic income“, Free Lunch, Financial Times, 7 June 2017 (unfortunately gated by a paywall).

Mr Sandbu cites “How many countries could end extreme poverty tomorrow?“, 1 June 2017, a blog by John W. McArthur, senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution.

waiting for universal pensions in Hong Kong

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Hong Kong is a city of immense wealth, but it is also a city where far too many residents – especially older residents – live in poverty. The people of Hong Kong have shown remarkable patience while the government refuses to implement a universal pension recommended long ago by their own consultant, University of Hong Kong professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun. (more…)