The secret of a good old age is simply an honorable pact with solitude. GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ, One Hundred Years of Solitude

International Day of Older Persons

"There is no place in which to hide When Age comes seeking for his bride. JOYCE KILMER, "Age Comes A-Wooing"

ILO calls on member States to ensure adequate pensions for all

You read the past in some old faces. WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY, The Virginians


" The man in the corner Is dying with words He's crying to be heard His days are marked And his only ears are birds He knows the secret to peace And his experience bleeds and hurts Somebody stop and listen Before he departs the earth! Somebody write his thoughts Before he hits the turf! His eyes are closing their shutters And he just dropped his Beads and stick. His breath is leaving us. Please! Somebody hear him out quick! A little girl rushes to him and Picks up his cane of wood. The old man then turns to her And faintly whispers, "The key to peace is To always stay fair And be good." ― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

ILO report shows progress on global pension coverage but benefits are low

GENEVA : While 68 per cent of older persons around the globe receive a pension, benefits levels remain inadequate, according to an ILO report.

Social Protection for older persons: Key policy trends and statistics 2017-19 shows that significant progress has been made in extending coverage of pension systems in developing countries. Most of these countries achieve universal coverage through a combination of social insurance (providing higher benefits) and basic social assistance.

Developing countries which have achieved universal coverage include Argentina, Belarus, Bolivia , Botswana , Cabo Verde , China , Georgia , Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho , Maldives , Mauritius, Mongolia, Namibia , Seychelles, South Africa , Swaziland, Timor-Leste , Trinidad and Tobago , Ukraine , Uzbekistan and Zanzibar (Tanzania). Other developing countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil , Chile, Kazakhstan, Thailand and Uruguay are close to achieve the goal of universal coverage.

However, the right to social protection of older persons is not yet a reality for most people in low-income countries. In many, less than 20 per cent of those who have reached the legal retirement age receive a pension. In these countries, an important proportion of the elderly still depend heavily on family support.

ILO standards and the United Nations 2030 Agenda , in particular Sustainable Development Goal 1.3, call for the implementation of national social protection systems for all older women and men.

"Our report is a call for action to achieve this important goal," said Isabel Ortiz, Director of the ILO's Social Protection Department.

Inadequate pension reforms

In higher income countries, with mature systems of social protection and ageing populations, the main challenge is to maintain a balance between the financial sustainability of pension systems and adequate pensions.

"Recent austerity or fiscal consolidation policies have also affected the adequacy of pension benefits. In several countries these reforms are done with a fiscal objective, without looking sufficiently at their negative social impacts, putting at risk the fulfilment of minimum standards in social security and eroding the social contract. As a result, old age poverty is increasing in a number of OECD countries," said Ortiz.

The report calls on countries to design social security reforms in a balanced way.


Softly comes Old Age, the thief,
Steals the rapture, leaves the throes.


"Death after all is only a matter of a few hours, a few minutes, but a pension is like poverty, it lasts a whole lifetime. Rich people are drunk in a different way, they can't understand this frenzy about security. Being rich is another kind of drunkenness, the forgetful kind. That, in fact, is the whole point of getting rich: to forget." ― Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of the Night

Pension system

"Countries introducing reforms to their pension systems need to find an optimal balance between sustainability objectives and pension benefits in order to accomplish the purpose of pension systems," added Fabio Duran-Valverde, Head of Public Finance, Actuarial and Statistical Services at the ILO.

Reversing pension privatizations

A look at pension systems around the world shows that public schemes, based on solidarity and collective financing, are by far the most widespread form of old-age protection globally.

According to the report, pension privatization policies implemented in some 30 countries did not deliver the expected results, as coverage and benefits did not increase, gender inequalities and fiscal positions worsened, while systemic risks were transferred to individuals.

As a result the majority of countries are reversing privatization measures and returning to public solidarity-based systems.

"Pension privatization brought many promises, including higher benefit levels, extension of coverage and lower fiscal costs. Yet, privatized schemes widely underperformed which is the reason why countries are switching back to public systems," said Ortiz.

The ILO is also launching an online Pension Primer that provides key tools related to pension system design, policy options, benefit adequacy, statistics, video tutorials, country studies and more. A social protection floor calculator allows users to estimate the costs of non-contributory social pensions.

What is the worst of
woes that wait on age?

What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow?
To view each loved one blotted from life's page,
And be alone on earth, as I am now.
LORD BYRON, Childe Harold