[Excerpt] This edition of Social Security Programs Throughout the World marks a significant break with previous editions. It now comprises four separate volumes—Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas—that will be published on a rolling basis between September 2002 and March 2004. The combined findings of this report highlight the principal features of social security programs throughout the world. This guide serves as an overview of programs in all four regions. A few political jurisdictions have been excluded because they have no social security system or have issued no information regarding their social security legislation. In this volume on Europe, the data reported are based on laws and regulations in force at the beginning of 2002 or on the last date for which information has been received.1 Information for each country on types of social security programs, types of mandatory systems for retirement income, contribution rates, and demographic and other statistics related to social security is shown in Tables 1-4 begining on page 16.