Publication: Early Access to Pension Savings: International Experience and Lessons Learnt

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World Bank Group
The objectives of a well-designed pension system are poverty reduction in old age and income smoothing throughout an individuals' lifetime. Over the last thirty years, changing demographic trends have caused a shift from 'pay as you go' and occupational defined benefit (DB) schemes - where the obligation for paying for retirement income is with the state and employers - to defined contribution (DC) schemes, where the obligation to save for retirement rests more with individuals. The transition to DC schemes did help establish a strong link between contributions during working life and benefits during retirement, for individuals. However, an increasing challenge has been balancing genuine needs for some pre-retirement liquidity, access to savings and providing adequate income post retirement for individuals. The need to get this balancing act right is being felt increasingly as coverage of national social security systems is expanded to include more of the non-salaried workforce which often has lower levels of income, more periods of unemployment and more irregular earnings. This note surveys recent literature and country experiences to understand if and how countries address the need for pre-retirement liquidity in both mandatory and voluntary DC schemes. The note also uses simple modelling to illustrate the impact of allowing access to pension savings on income adequacy after retirement. The report concludes with recommendations based on emerging best practice.
World Bank Group. 2019. Early Access to Pension Savings: International Experience and Lessons Learnt. Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Insight;. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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