There is wide heterogeneity in terms of social security in the Americas Region. Several Latin American countries are among the first in the world to have created formal social security schemes in the early 20th century, among which Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. Furthermore, almost all design principles for formal social security schemes can be found in the region: contributory schemes; social assistance policies; non-contributory benefits; universal or targeted; fully-funded, partially funded or pay-as-you-go; publicly administered or privately run; and mandatory or voluntary affiliation schemes. Some of countries in the region have a very high degree of coverage while in others, less than 20% of the working force contributes to social security on a regular basis.
This variety of designs and outcomes reflects a very vivid history, demonstrates significant creativity and pays testament to the strengthening of democracy in the region. In the last decades, the Americas have generated some of the most interesting innovations in terms of social security tools, be it within the scope of contributory schemes, the application of non-contributory principles, or the design of new, highly effective social assistance programmes. Despite persisting poverty, income inequality, the economic crisis and recurrent environmental disasters, as well as the ongoing challenge of social protection coverage expansion, recent results have been positive. Since the year 2000, coverage has been continuously expanding and more people now have access to a social protection that mitigates poverty and risk.
Read more on social security in the Americas by clicking on the links below:
- Subregional Differences across the Americas
- Economic and Financial Crisis and labour market policies
- The role of the public and private sectors in providing pensions
- Innovative approaches: Poverty alleviation through cash transfer schemes
- Challenges for Social Security Extension Across the Americas
CEPAL Naciones Unidas, 2010