[Excerpt] While the relatively youthful populations of Pacific developing member countries offer the potential of a demographic dividend, the benefits are not being fully realized. Participation in the workforce is relatively low and the percentage of an elderly population requiring support for living and health-care costs is increasing. Current estimates place 20% of the elderly population in the Pacific below the poverty line. Furthermore, small populations in island countries limit the number of those who can contribute into a specific systems.
There is a lack of comprehensive and coordinated social protection policies and programs in Pacific developing member countries. Moreover, the diversity of funds makes it clear that there is not one model or set of standards that will work everywhere.
Support for the retired, elderly, and the impoverished has traditionally come from informal, family, or kinship-based systems. The formal systems that are in place typically take the form of contribution-based national provident fund schemes which are hampered by low participation and contribution rates, limited investment mandates, and inefficient operations.
The inefficiencies are exacerbated by vague and inconsistent eligibility standards across the spectrum of income support schemes. The resulting higher transaction costs impose barriers on the levels of support available for vulnerable populations.
The gender gap poses issues as well. Women live on a t and 5 years longer than their husbands, who are the traditional wage-earners.