Micro-pensions in India: Issues and challenges
By Savita Shankar & Mukul G. Asher
This article aims to fill a gap in the social security literature on India by examining the role of micro-pensions. The analysis suggests that because of the heterogeneity of the target population, micro-pension products — with microfinance institutions (MFIs) as the main, but not only sponsors — should be voluntary and portable and permit experimentation in their design and in the delivery of services. Accordingly, decentralized micro-pension schemes that operate within an appropriate regulatory framework and according to sound governance practices are deemed more fitting for the Indian context than centralized schemes with limited flexibility. The article discusses two case studies of recently- initiated micro-pension schemes in India, which reveal the need for rigorous analytical research on the micro-pension sector, particularly concerning the structuring of pay-out options and innovative delivery mechanisms. The article concludes that micro-pensions have the potential to be one of the most useful components in India’s multi-tiered social security system, and should be encouraged.