2023 (20), №2

Old-Age Pension Systems in Modern Socialist Countries: A Comparative Analysis



For citation: 

Moseiko, V. V. (2023). Old-Age Pension Systems in Modern Socialist Countries: A Comparative Analysis. AlterEconomics, 20(2), 392–414. https://doi.org/10.31063/AlterEconomics/2023.20-2.6


This article provides an overview of old-age pension systems in contemporary socialist countries, namely China, North Korea, the Republic of Cuba, Vietnam, and Lao PDR. The aim of this study is to identify and analyze the distinctive characteristics of these systems. Through an examination of academic literature on pension organization and financing, as well as data from the World Bank, OECD, ILO, ASEAN, and statistical departments (USSR, China), the study analyzes the old age pension systems of each country, identifying commonalities and unique features. The study identifies elements aligned with global practices, socialist characteristics, and national peculiarities. Initially, all of the given countries adopted distribution-based pension arrangements that are prevalent worldwide. However, as the systems evolved, distinguishing features emerged, such as pension income inequality and privileges for specific population segments. Moreover, the study explores country-specific features influenced by the national economic context. The impact of the informal sector and illicit income on old-age pensions is uncovered, alongside the significant role of family support. Possible future scenarios for the development of old-age pensions in these countries are proposed.

PDF full
Downloaded: 26

Victoria V. Moseiko — Cand. Sci. (Econ.), Associate Professor, Associate Professor of the Department of Economic Theory and Instrumental Methods, Kaliningrad State Technical University; https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8574-222X (32, Maly all., Kaliningrad, 236039, Russian Federation; e-mail: vimoseiko@gmail.com).

Acemoglu, D, & Robinson, J. A. (2015). Pochemu odni strany bogatye, a drugie bednye. Proiskhozhdenie vlasti, protsvetaniya i nishchety [Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty]. Translated from English by P. Mironov, D. Litvinov, S. Sanovich. Moscow, Russia: AST 696. (In Russ.)

Anikina, E. A., Barysheva, G. A., Gumennikov, I. V., Ivankina, L. I., Casati, F., Korneva, O. Yu., Malanina, V. A., Monastyrny, E. A., Moseiko, V. V., Nedospasova, O. P., Pavlova, I. A., Ryzhkova, M. V., Taran, E. A., & Frolova, E. A. (2018). Sotsial’noe, ekonomicheskoe i emotsional’noe blagopoluchie starshego pokoleniya v Rossii: sotsial’naya i pensionnaya politika [Social, Economic and Emotional Well-Being of the Older Generation in Russia: Social and Pension Policy]. In G. A. Barysheva (Ed.). Tomsk, Russia: STT, 246. (In Russ.)

Cai, Y., & Cheng, Y. (2014). Pension Reform in Сhina: Challenges and Opportunities. Journal of Economic Surveys, 28 (4), 636–651. https://doi.org/10.1111/joes.12082

Coeurdacier, N., Guibaud, S., & Jin, K. (2014). Fertility Policies and Social Security Reforms in China. IMF Economic Review, 62 (3), 371–408. https://doi.org/10.1057/imfer.2014.19

de Soto, H. J. (2004). Zagadka kapitala. Pochemu kapitalizm torzhestvuet na Zapade i terpit porazhenie vo vsem ostal’nom mire [The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else]. Translated from English by B. Pinsker. In R. Levit (Ed.). Moscow, Russia: Olimp-Bizness, 272. (In Russ.)

Degtyarev, G. (2003). Pensionnye reformy v Rossii [Pension reforms in Russia]. Moscow, Russia: Academia, 336. (In Russ.)

Dorn, J. A. (2004). Pension Reform in China: A Question of Property Rights. Cato Journal, 23 (3), 433–446.

Fang, H., & Feng, J. (2018). The Chinese Pension System. ShanghaiTech SEM Working Paper No. 2018–014, Wharton Pension Research Council Working Paper No. 2019–06. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3252329

Henshaw, S. K., Singh, S., & Haas, T. (1999). The Incidence of Abortion Worldwide. International Family Planning Perspectives, 25, 30–38.

Kapustina, O. V. (2010). Personal’nye pensii v sisteme pensionnogo obespecheniya v SSSR (vtoraya polovina 1950-kh–1980-e gg.) [Personal Pensions in the Soviet Pension System (second half of the 1950s — 1980s)]. Nauchnye problemy gumanitarnykh issledovaniy [Scientific Problems of Humanitarian Research], 3, 50–54. (In Russ.)

Kapustina, O. V. (2013). Osnovnye sotsial’nye gruppy sovetskogo obshchestva v 1960–1980kh gg., opredelennye pensionnym zakonodatel’stvom [The Main Social Groups of Soviet Society in the 1960–1980s, Defined by the Pension Legislation]. Zhurnal issledovaniy sotsial’noy politiki [The Journal of Social Policy Studies], 11 (3), 407–422. (In Russ.)

Koen, V., & Beom, J. (2020). North Korea: The Last Transition Economy? OECD Economics Department Working Papers, No. 1607. https://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=ECO/WKP%282020 %2915&docLanguage=En (accessed 03.07.2022).

Lankov, A. (2022). K severu ot 38-y paralleli: Kak zhivut v KNDR North of the 38th parallel: how to live in the DPRK]. Moscow, Russia: Alpina non-fiction, 538. (In Russ.)

Lei, X., Zhang, C., & Zhao, Y. (2014). Incentive Problems in China’s New Rural Pension Program. Labor Market Issues in China (Research in Labor Economics, Vol. 37), (pp. 181–201). https://doi.org/10.1108/S0147-9121(2013)0000037010

Mamontova, T. (1965). O chem govoryat tsifry [What about the Numbers Speak]. Sotsial’noe obespechenie [Social Security], 11, 21–22. (In Russ.)

Mesa-Lago, C. (2013). Social Protection Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean: Cuba. Santiago: United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, 47.

Mesa-Lago, C., & Pérez-López J. (2005). Cuba’s Aborted Reform: Socioeconomic Effects. International Comparisons and Transition Policies. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 223.

Moseiko, V. V. (2017). Pensionnoe obespechenie v Rossii: analiz neravenstva. [Pension Provision in Russia: The Analysis of Inequality]. Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta. Seriya 6: Ekonomika [Moscow University Economics Bulletin], 3, 43–60. (In Russ.)

Moseiko, V. V. (2018). Institut pensiy: gosudarstvo vs chastnaya initsiativa [Institute of Pensions: Historical Development]. Zhurnal Economicheskoj Teorii [Russian Journal of Economic Theory], 15 (2), 309–315. https://doi.org/10.31063/2073-6517/2018.15-2.14 (In Russ.)

Mun-su, Y. (2015). North Korea’s Planned Economy and Marketization. Institute for Unification Edu­cation. https://www.uniedu.go.kr/uniedu/home/brd/bbsatcl/enpds/view.do?id=30330&mid= SM00000530&limit=12&sc=T&sv=North&eqViewYn=true&odr=news (дата обращения: 03.07.2022).

National Institute for Unification Education (2014). Understanding North Korea 2014. https://www.uniedu.go.kr/uniedu/home/cms/page/understanding_nk/view.do?mid=SM00000764 (дата обращения: 03.07.2022).

National Institute for Unification Education (2017). Understanding North Korea 2017. https://www.uniedu.go.kr/uniedu/home/cms/page/understanding_nk/view.do?mid=SM00000764 (дата обращения: 03.07.2022).

Ngo Thi Hang (2017). Pension System in Vietnam: Progress, Challenges and Policy Implications. Journal of Science of Lac Hong University, Special Issue (11/2017), 98–103.

North, D. C., Wallis, J. J., & Weingast, B. R. (2011). Nasilie i sotsial’nye poryadki. Kontseptual’nye ramki dlya interpretatsii pis’mennoy istorii chelovechestva [Violence and Social Orders. A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History]. Moscow, Russia: Gaidar Institute Publishing House, 480. (In Russ.)

Seong, J. J. (2015). The Story of North Korea Told by a North Korean Refugee. Institute for Unification Education. https://www.uniedu.go.kr/uniedu/home/brd/bbsatcl/enpds/view.do?id =30003&mid=SM00000530&limit=12&sc=T&sv=North&eqViewYn=true&odr=news (дата обращения: 03.07.2022).

Sivakova, I. V. (2015). Pensionnoe zakonodatel’stvo Rossii v sovetskiy period (oktyabr’ 1917 g.–1928 g.) [Russian Pension Legislation in the Soviet Period (October 1917–1928)]. Moscow, Russia: Prospekt, 208. (In Russ.)

Tran Thi Xuan Anh, & Ngo Thi Hang (2018). Pension System in Vietnam: New Challenges and Development Prospects. V’etnamskie issledovaniya [The Russian Journal of Vietnamese Studies], 2 (4), 43–53. https://doi.org/10.24411/2618-9453-2018-10036

Wang, Q., & Timonen, V. (2021). Retirement Pathways and Pension Inequality in China: A Grounded Theory Study. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 41 (13/14), 96–111. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-09-2020-0454

Yong-seok, C., & Eun-mee, J. (2015). Double-sidedness of North Korea. https://www.uniedu.go.kr/uniedu/home/brd/bbsatcl/enpds/view.do?id=30331&mid=SM00000530&limit=12&sc=T&sv=North&eqViewYn=true&odr=news#_none (дата обращения: 03.07.2022).

Zhao, Y., & Xu, J. (2002). China’s Urban Pension System: Reforms and Problems. Cato Journal, 21 (3), 395–414.