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Volume 9 Issue 2 - May 2008

New Book by MRRC Researchers

The Gender Impact of Social Security Reform by Estelle James, Alejandra Cox Edwards, and  Rebeca Wong.  The University of Chicago Press, 2008

As populations age and revenues diminish, government and private pension funds around the world are facing insolvency. The looming social security crisis is especially dire for women, who live longer than men but have worked less in the formal labor force. This  groundbreaking study examines alternative social security systems and their disparate impacts on men and women. Emphasis is placed on the new multi-pillar systems that combine a publicly managed benefit and a mandatory private retirement saving plan.

The Gender Impact of Social Security Reform compares the gendered outcomes of social security systems in Chile, Argentina, and Mexico, and presents empirical findings from Eastern and Central European transition economies as well as several OECD countries.

Women’s positions have improved relative to men in countries where joint pensions have been required, widows who have worked can keep the joint pension in addition to their own benefit, the public benefit has been targeted toward low earners, and women’s retirement age has been raised to equality with that of men. The Gender Impact of Social Security Reform will force economists and policy makers to reexamine the design features that enable social security systems to achieve desirable gender outcomes.

Estelle James is a consultant to the World Bank, USAID, and other organizations, former lead economist at the World Bank, and professor emeritus of economics at the State University of New York, Stony Brook.

Alejandra Cox Edwards is professor of economics at California State University-Long Beach and consultant to the World Bank and the  Inter-American Bank for Development.

Rebeca Wong is associate director of the Maryland Population Research Center and associate research scientist in the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland.