in: Policy in Focus 14 (3), 11-14
All countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region show substantial inequalities in the provision of social protection for elderly people. They have public old-age pension schemes, most of these with substantial budgets and providing comparatively generous benefits to their beneficiaries. However, these benefits are very unevenly distributed across the population. Some social groups receive decent transfers, whereas others much less so, while most people in MENA still lack access to any of these public pension schemes whatsoever. This is especially true for those who work for lower pay in the informal sector. As a result, most public pension schemes in MENA have only limited impact on income poverty and might even contribute to income inequality in some countries. In addition, public pension schemes in the region suffer from serious deficits with regards to efficiency and sustainability. These findings are particularly concerning given the fact that MENA societies are ageing - i.e. the share of people above age 65 is increasing rapidly and that traditional forms of social protection continue to dwindle.