GLOBAL - The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that developing countries should not copy pension systems currently available in the West.

WHO specialist Somnath Chatterji stated that based on current ageing issues in the developing world, other regions should not imitate European systems as they will not be sustainable.

At present, more than 705 million people are older than 65. In 2050 the latter figure will have more than tripled. According to the WHO, around 2050 there will be more elderly people than children in the world.

Chatterji stated that based on these trends, developing countries will be increasingly confronted by pension and healthcare issues. According to the WHO, to retire the ageing part of the population from the workforce will put too high a pressure on the economy.

At the same time, to copy pension systems such as currently available in Europe would undermine the position of the elderly, as work has a much higher social status and security than pension.

Chatterji believes developing countries are facing a unique situation, in which more and more elderly will be needed to keep the economy sustainable. The latter stands in contrast to current developments in the developed world, where according to reports of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the average pension age has decreased.

As one of the main proposals to increase the financial and social position of elderly in the developing world, the WHO has proposed that governments put in place a so-called phased pension system.

Already in place in the USA and UK, this means that older employees stay at work while already taking pension. For most companies, the ILO has indicated, this could be beneficial as the experience and knowledge of older employees is not lost.

However, how far this is feasible in other countries, remains to be seen. In Europe, such schemes have been rejected by the majority of people, as it is perceived as a way of increasing the overall pension age without getting additional benefits. In developing countries this however is more easier to implement as far less generous pension systems are in place.