Knowledge Note

Over the years pension systems have been an essential policy tool for the economic protection of older adults across countries and regions. But in a context of widespread inequality, not everyone enjoys the same level of protection. Because women’s life courses are different from men’s, pension systems often have different outcomes for women and men. With populations aging in East Asia, the gender pension gap is affecting more and more women. This note summarizes the results of a study that examined pension policies and their gender dimensions in several countries of East Asia. The study examined the labor force behavior of women aged 45 years and over in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines, investigating the key policy and behavioral drivers of their observed labor force participation and withdrawal. Empirical and policy analysis is supplemented with qualitative insights from focus groups and individual interviews with women in the focus countries who are nearing retirement age or have already withdrawn from the workforce. The findings fill important and policy-relevant knowledge gaps on pensions and retirement and on gender differentials in endowments, economic opportunities, and well-being at older ages.

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World Bank