The Gender Dimensions of Pension Systems

Policies and Constraints for the Protection of Older Women

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Gender equality is one of the key challenges confronted by pension systems around the world. In a context of gendered labour markets, contributory pension systems face several constraints to guarantee universal and adequate pension benefits for women. Women’s life courses are characterized by longer periods dedicated to taking care of others, lower labour market participation, more part-time work and lower earnings. All these features compromise their pension entitlements in pension systems that link benefits to paid work, contributions and earnings. This publication deals with the challenges and constraints that pension systems face to be gender equitable and the policy alternatives to address these challenges. This work shows that crucial policy choices for the protection of women concern the conditions for entitlements in pension systems (based on either work, need or citizenship), the types of transfers that are promoted between women and men, the policy tools available to offset gender differences in paid work, earnings and unpaid work (such as contribution credits) and the protection of the most vulnerable social groups through redistributive benefits.

Sustainable Development Goals:

Table of Contents



Women’s lifecourses and pension entitlements

The design and coverage of pension systems and poverty in old age

Contributory social insurance pensions and gender

Defined contribution systems and gender

Pension reform and gender after the global crisis

Non-contributory pensions and gender equality

Family-related components of pension systems




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