World

Chile's Public Pensions May Ease Retirement Concerns

by Cynthia English

Many Chileans very worried about not having enough retirement money

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Chile's President Michelle Bachelet is hailing new legislation entitling nearly 600,000 poor Chileans to monthly public pensions as "one of the most important social reforms in decades." More than 4 in 10 Chileans (45%) last summer told Gallup they were very worried about not having enough money for retirement.

Compared with residents in some other Latin American countries with successful economies, Chileans, along with Colombians (44%) and Brazilians (41%), were the most likely to say they are very worried about not having enough money for retirement. Including responses from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay, Gallup finds a median of only 31% who are very worried about not having enough money for retirement.

Chile's new public pension program is expected to help many poor Chileans. It will also help some of the more than 1 million informal workers living there -- such as domestic laborers and self-employed citizens -- currently ineligible to participate in the country's private pension system.

About a third (35%) of Chileans say they are satisfied with their country's efforts to deal with the poor, a number consistent with what Gallup found just after President Bachelet took office in 2006. Chileans' concern about efforts to deal with the poor is comparable with concern expressed in some other countries with successful economies in Latin America. The regional median on this issue is 35% who say they are satisfied with efforts to deal with the poor in their respective countries.

Since Bachelet became Chile's first female president in 2006, some have questioned her capacity to bring about serious reform. In fact, Gallup Polls show the number of Chileans who express confidence in their national government has dropped from 58% in 2006 to 43% in 2007. The realization of this new public pension plan may help boost confidence in national government.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay conducted throughout 2006 and 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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