One measure of public program response to rapidly expanding older populations is the approach to old-age pensions under social insurance, social assistance, and provident fund systems. Social insurance is clearly the preferred method of meeting the income needs of the elderly, but historical, as well as current social and economic conditions are forcing many nations to reevaluate the characteristics of viable and sustainable social insurance programs. This has led to a variety of innovations in old-age pension programs development, including revised benefit formulas, raised retirement ages, increased income testing, and expanded reliance on private occupational supplemental programs.
The essays in this new international handbook analyze the impact of the economic, social, and cultural effects of aging populations on government social insurance policies. They offer a perspective on how twenty different countries have approached income maintenance programs for the elderly. Collectively, the contributors demonstrate how governments, non-governmental entities, communities, and families respond to changes in traditional income and social service support systems. They provide not only descriptions of existing programs, but also a better understanding of the factors that gave rise to their distinct characteristics. This important new collection will be required reading for everyone involved in elderly services.