Cabo Verde, an island country with a population of 525,000 and a per capita income of four thousand US dollars, is seldom in the news. It is a located 570 kilometres off the coast of Western Africa. The former colony of Portugal became an independent state in 1975.
I was surprised, then, to learn that this small, low-income country has achieved near-universal pension coverage for residents aged 60 years and older.
According to … the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Social Protection Department, over 90 per cent of older persons in Cabo Verde receive a pension, if you add up contributory and non-contributory coverage. ….
Beneficiaries receive a monthly payment of 5,000 Caboverdian escudos (about US$ 65).
This represents 20 per cent more than the poverty line. To qualify for the social pension, older persons must be residents of Cabo Verde, be 60 years old or above, have an income below the national official poverty line and not be covered by any other social security scheme.
The social pensions cost nearly 0.4 per cent of Cabo Verde’s GDP and are fully financed from the state budget.
ILO Newsroom, “Social protection in Cabo Verde: the little archipelago that could“, Equal Times, 8 June 2015.
This is informative, but leaves questions unanswered. Are benefits the same for all recipients, or are benefits reduced for those who have some income, though not enough to lift them above the official poverty line. Do the income- and pension-tests apply to individuals, or to households? Why hasn’t the country moved to full universal pensions, or at least universal minimum pensions (eliminating the income test)? Why are both income-tests and pension-tests retained when they deny coverage to such a small number (less than 10%) of age-qualified residents? How many older persons live in poverty, yet fail to apply for a social pension because of stigma, lack of information or bureaucratic obstacles? On the other hand, how many shameless older persons receive a social pension even though they have incomes above the national poverty line and/or access to a social security (contributory) pension?
Can a reader point us to a source of statistics with which to answer some of these questions?