By Carmelo Mesa-Lago. Published 2010. ISBN 9781900039970
Written by the top scholar on social security in Latin America and the Caribbean, this book assesses the effects of the world financial and economic crisis on social security and welfare in the region. Drawing on the impact of and lessons from previous crisis, it identifies the strengths and weakness of Latin American social security before the current global crisis, and evaluates its actual and potential effects on pensions, health care and social assistance programs, based on a taxonomy of three groups of countries. The few publications available on the crisis by international organizations, don’t deal in depth with this subject in the developing world.
Key aspects treated are population coverage (affected by rising unemployment, informality and poverty), benefit sufficiency (inflation consequences on pensions, erosion in the basic package of health-care benefits), social solidarity and gender equity, competition among private insurers and administrative costs, and fundamental financial issues such as capital accumulation, portfolio diversification, capital returns and long-term financial and actuarial sustainability in both public and private systems. Standardized statistical tables compare the countries and measure the impact of the crisis based on data for 2007 prior to the crisis, 2008 when the crisis began, and 2009 when the crisis consequences were fully felt.
The book ends with a summary of policies taken in some countries and the author’s own recommendations on social policies to attenuate the crisis adverse outcomes. Latin America’s social-welfare pioneering reforms and influence elsewhere makes this book important for other regions of the world, both developed and developing.
Carmelo Mesa-Lago is Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics and Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and has been a visiting professor or researcher in seven countries and a lecturer in 39 nations. He is the author of 78 books and 270 articles/chapters published in seven languages in 33 countries; his most recent being Reassembling Social Security: A Survey of Pension and Healthcare Reforms in Latin America (Oxford University Press, 2008). He has worked in all countries of Latin America and several in the Caribbean, as an ECLAC regional advisor, a consultant with the ILO, the International Social Security Association (where he currently chairs the Task Force for Extension of Coverage) and other U.N. branches, as well as most international financial organizations. A member of the U.S. National Academy of Social Insurance and of the International Board of the International Social Security Review, he has been awarded the inaugural ILO International Research Prize on Decent Work (shared with Nelson Mandela in 2007), the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung Senior Prize, two Senior Fulbrights, and Homage for his life work on social protection from the Iberoamerican Organization of Social Security and the Inter-American Conference on Social Security. He was finalist in Spain’s Prince of Asturias Prize on Social Sciences 2009.