Social Pension Income Associated With Small Improvements In Self-Reported Health Of Poor Older Men In Colombia

Publication date: 
March, 2018

Hessel P, Avendano M, Rodriguez-Castelan C, et al.

The countries of Latin American are aging rapidly. Because most countries in the region lack adequate social protection systems, many Latin American governments have introduced noncontributory pension programs to reduce poverty and food shortages. This study assessed the effects of a large national noncontributory pension program on the health and health care use of older people in Colombia. Using an instrumental variables approach that exploited differential rollout of the program across municipalities, we found evidence that the program led to significant but small improvements in self-reported health and reductions in hospitalizations among men. No significant effects were found among women or among men for other health and health care use outcomes. A small noncontributory pension was associated with improvements in self-reported measures of health for vulnerable older men, but these effects are small in magnitude. Researchers and policy makers should assess ways to maximize the health benefits of cash transfers to poor older people.