Pension Reform and Self-Employment in Latin America


Research output: Working paper


Public pension systems in Latin America have historically suffered from low coverage, meaning that a relatively small percentage of the labor force is eligible for benefits in retirement. In recent years, many governments have implemented reforms aimed at expanding the percentage of citizens that are benefit-eligible. In this paper, we classify and evaluate pension reforms in four Latin American countries, focusing specifically on policies aimed at expanding coverage among the large share of Latin Americans that operate as self-employed workers. The reforms that we examine range from those linked to simplified tax regimes to those that provide pension-specific subsidies. With the exception of a 2006 reform in Costa Rica that subsidized pension contributions at
progressive rates, we find no evidence that any of these reforms increased coverage. Our results highlight the opportunity costs to low-income workers of paying into the system, which include foregoing eligibility for less generous, non-contributory pensions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jul 6 2020


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