Costs and Potential Funding of Expanded Public Pension Coverage in Asia

Publication | June 2017

Many Asian economies are facing rapidly aging populations, which will dramatically raise pension and other old-age-related spending.

Public pension burdens in most emerging Asian economies are still relatively small. However, there are a number of reasons to believe that they will increase markedly in the coming years. First, many Asian economies will face rapidly aging populations, which will raise pension and other old-age-related spending dramatically. Second, as economies develop, political pressures to expand the coverage of public pensions and raise pension benefits will likely increase. The first objective of our paper is to identify the potential fiscal burden of public pensions in 23 emerging Asian economies, based on econometric models and forecasts of gross domestic product (GDP) and demographic trends. Using two different methodologies yields estimated increases in the average share of public pension expenditures in GDP of 1.0 percentage point and 3.6 percentage points by 2030 compared with current levels. We believe the latter estimate is more realistic. The second objective is to recommend policies to provide adequate funding for public pension needs, including enhancing the efficiency of social insurance programs, improving the balance of revenues and expenditures, implementing more explicit fiscal rules and frameworks, and establishing stronger fiscal surveillance at the national and regional levels.


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  • Governance and public sector management
  • Social development and protection