Background on Chile’s Pension System

Alas, benefits have not measured up to people’s unrealistic expectations. The scheme’s founders told workers that if they contributed continuously throughout their careers they would receive a generous 70% of their final salaries upon retirement. And indeed, men who chipped in for 30 years or more earned an average pension of 77% of their final salary. But most workers contributed far less. Women took time off to raise children (and retire earlier than men). Many Chileans spent time in informal jobs or unemployed. On average, they contribute for only 40% of their prime working years.


For most people the 10% contribution rate, just half the average in the OECD, a club of mainly rich countries, is too low. As a result, the typical benefit, including a supplement paid to poor people, is 45% of a pensioner’s final salary, well below the OECD average of 61%. Women are worst off. They take home pensions worth 31% of their final salaries, compared with 60% for men. In 2008 the government decided to reward mothers for each child they raised by topping up their pensions, but that does not fully compensate for the shortfall.

You can read more at the Economist here.