Regional Forum on Policy Implications of Population Ageing in I. R. Iran

With the invitation from United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), HelpAge International (HAI), Social Welfare Organizations of Iran, and Ministry of Cooperatives, Labour, and Social Welfare of I.R. Iran, Assoc. Prof. Giang Thanh Long participated in the ‘Regional Forum on Policy Implications of Population Ageing on 3-5 July at Tabriz city. The main aims of this Forum were to provide regional issues on aging and development, and share country experiences in formulating and implementing policies on aging and for older people. The Forum welcomed about 30 experts from 15 countries in the region, as well as about 70 participants from various organizations in I. R. Iran.
 In this forum, Assoc. Prof. Long contributed two presentations and a discussion in the concluding panel. The first presentation ‘Income Security and Patterns of Income: Vietnam’s Case Study’ showed that among various factors protecting older people in later life in terms of economic, health and social aspects as presented in ‘successful aging’, income security plays the first and foremost important factor. The presentation suggested that in addition to encouraging older people to continue working as well as familial support, social protection system should be developed further as a long-term investment rather than a simple giving-away expenditure. Moreover, encouraging younger generations – who will be older people in the future – to save using their appropriate financial literacy – will also be a crucial work. To reach ‘successful aging’, however, income security should be reached along with health protection and active social participation for older people.

In the second presentation ‘Pensions and Social Protection: Case Study of Vietnam as a Middle-income Country’, it was shown that although pensions – both contributory and non-contributory – currently plays a small role in income security for older people, as they account for less than 20 percent of total income for older people, it is important that pensions will play more important role in securing older people’s permanent income along their weakening work capacity and lowering support from children and limited savings/assets. There are vast differences in pension coverage rates between high-income countries (HICs) and low & middle-income countries (LIMCs). Among LIMCs, differences between male and female, urban and rural workers are also distinguish. These are not exceptional for Vietnam as a MIC. To reach income security for older people, it is suggested that a social protection floor (SPF) approach proposed by ILO should be considered to (i) provide coverage for ‘the missing middle’ – i.e., informal workers, and (ii) provide basic income for all older people regardless they are rich or poor. The presentation also showed, for example, that universal social pension will be financially feasible to reach this basic income strategy.

In the panel discussion, all speakers agreed with each other that policies for aging populations for each country should be adaptive with socio-economic and health situations, rather than just simply ‘copy & paste’ from other countries. This Forum really brought excellent ideas and discussions for various countries in Asia.