The government of Bolivia has passed a new pension law that reduces the retirement age for most men to 58 from 65, in stark contrast to many other countries which are seeking to hike the retirement age in order to deal with climbing life expectancy rates.
Signed by President Evo Morales, the new measure will also nationalize pension funds.
In addition, the law, which will come into force next year, will for the first time grant pensions to the 60 percent of the workforce who work in informal jobs, including market traders, bus drivers and taxi drivers, as long as they make contributions. It is estimated that 3-million Bolivians (or 60 percent of the workforce) are employed in the “informal sector.”
The retirement age for miners was reduced to 56.
For women, will be able to retire at age 55 if they have three or more children. (Women currently retire at age 60).
In a symbolic gesture, Morales signed the new law at the headquarters of Bolivia's main trade union federation, accompanies by miners, peasants and other workers.
What is most important to highlight is the fact that, when we bring together workers with their experience and our ministers and our experts, it is possible together to formulate, propose, and develop a law for the benefit of the Bolivian people, Morales said in a speech at the Bolivian Workers' Center .
In response to the reduced pension ages, Bolivian ministers explained that many poor Bolivians work in difficult jobs in harsh conditions which older workers cannot reasonably be expected to do. Moreover, the nation’s life expectancy rate is only 62 years for men and 65 years for women.
However, Bolivian business leaders have criticized the new laws, saying they are unsustainable.
Thirteen years ago, Bolivia privatized pension funds after a state-run system collapsed.