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Working paper

Where did the pre-COVID world stand on protecting the seniors?

By 2050, the elderly population is expected to reach 2 billion, with 80% living in low- and middle-income countries. In today’s COVID-19 pandemic reality, income and health support for these older adults is a critical concern.  What have the world’s countries been doing to ensure that their elderly do not live in poverty? Are there national policies to ensure their health needs are adequately met?  How are the countries helping working adults who are responsible for providing caregiving to their elderly parents? In this paper, the globally comparable, quantitative data is used to examine the availability of social security policies relevant to older adults across 193 United Nations member states.  These policies include the availability of contributory and non-contributory pensions to ensure that all older adults are guaranteed a minimum level of income. The paper also investigates the availability of health insurance to defray medical expenses in old age.  Finally, because many older adults must rely on their working adult children for care, the availability of leave for working adults to care for their elderly family members’ health needs is examined.  Throughout the paper, the differences in policy coverage by region and country income level, with particular attention paid to low- and middle-income countries, are analyzed. The recommendations on addressing throughout the world the issues of avoiding aging population to live in poverty and meeting their health needs are formulated.