Pension and Insurance Funds

October 8, 2020

An elderly man waits for the tram. Bosnia and Herzegovina.

An elderly man waits for the tram. Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: Flore de Préneuf / World Bank

Our work focuses on ensuring that more people have better access to quality pension and insurance products, and increasing the supply of institutional investors’ assets that can safely fund long-term investment.


Our objectives are twofold:

  • to ensure that more people have better access to quality insurance and pensions products
  • to increase the supply of institutional investors’ assets that can safely fund long-term investment.

Pensions - By 2050, the global population segment aged 65 and older will have doubled from 10% to 20%. Nearly 1.3 billion people – 80% of the elderly – will live in Low Income Countries (LICs). Yet, only around one-third of the population in these countries have any sort of formal retirement income. Pension systems contribute to the twin goals by providing income in the event of old age, disability and premature death of the primary beneficiaries. In addition, pension systems contribute to promote long-term savings and which in turn stimulates economic growth. They are also an increasingly important source of sustainable finance and leaders in greening our financial systems.

Insurance – Insurance coverage in developing economies remain stubbornly low. Where insurance markets do exist, they need to be made more robust and inclusive. This work area is important to the WBG twin goals because: i) insurance helps reduce or avoid poverty in the face of adversity, with paid insurance claims having a long-term benefit well beyond the immediate event (avoiding measures like selling income-generating assets or taking children out of school) and ii) insurance can reduce poverty beyond compensating losses through claims payments, and also benefit the uninsured and the overall economy through quantifying and reducing risk, enhancing access to credit, and enabling greater savings and investments – serving as an important source of long-term domestic capital. Furthermore, insurance offers the most effective risk management especially for events of low frequency but high severity that are on the rise due to climate change.

What We Do:

Our work focuses on ensuring that elderly poverty is alleviated by the provision of income in retirement through pension systems that are adequate, efficient, sustainable and secure. Furthermore, our work contributes to fair, safe and stable insurance markets that serve all segments of society. To achieve this, we help clients to adapt and implement international standards and practices towards legal/regulatory frameworks where insurance markets and pension systems can thrive, and we strengthen the capacity of supervisors and other stakeholders to fulfil their potential. We also contribute to promoting the productive investment of institutional investors’ assets – not only to support the goal of providing adequate and secure pensions and insurance but also to provide an important source of long-term financing for development and sustainable growth. The key areas of work are described below:

  • Strategic Reforms to Pension Systems: Designing and supporting the implementation of public and private pension reforms, including macro, fiscal, market, and regulatory aspects.
  • Strategic Reforms to Insurance Systems: Conducting diagnostic reviews (including deep-dive country diagnostic studies), creating reform roadmaps, and supporting the implementation through a wide range of Technical Assistance projects – particularly directed to enhancing regulation and supervision – and advancing other specific market-driven initiatives.
  • Supporting Institutional Investors as Providers of Long-term, Sustainable Finance: Collaborating closely with our capital market colleagues, the team is working with policy makers, regulators and consortium of pension funds and other institutional investors globally to create long-term investment vehicles allowing them to securely invest in infrastructure, housing and other long-term investments which match their long-term liabilities. The team also supports leading institutional investors from both developed and developing economies to include of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into their investment decision making processes and enable them to be drivers of greening our financial systems globally.
  • Leading research and lesson sharing: Our knowledge work aims to share international standards, emerging good practice and innovative approaches to regulating, supervising and investing pension funds and insurance assets globally.


Fiona Stewart

Lead Financial Sector Specialist