Return and Retirement Funds for Indian Migrant Working Women in ECR Countries



Overseas Indian workers are excluded from access to formal social security and retirement savings schemes available to residents of the 17 ECR countries. They are also excluded from formal pension, provident funds and gratuity schemes normally available to workers in India. No mechanism presently exists to enable and encourage these workers to either save for their old age or have any motivation to come back to India for a return and resettlement. As a consequence, a majority of these overseas Indian workers face the grave risk of poverty when they return to India and become too old to work. On an average, nearly one in every five Indian workers in ECR countries is a woman. Women workers are even more vulnerable to old-age poverty since they enjoy a higher life expectancy than men but are disadvantaged due to relatively lower incomes, shorter work life and interruptions in employment due to childbirth and other family responsibilities. This chapter focuses on the rationale and requirement for such a scheme and provides recommendations to the policymakers towards designing such institutional mechanism that would encourage the target population to voluntarily save for their scheduled return and to also improve their retirement incomes. The chapter argues in favour of using conditional cash transfers (CCTs) mechanism for providing a socioeconomic safety net. Even with needed reforms of formal sector pensions, part of the requirement for retirement income security will need to be met from newer instruments such as the CCTs. CCTs have received considerable attention as instruments for eliciting desirable behaviour on the part of the recipients, minimizing transaction costs and errors in delivery of public services. That the CCT mechanism can be used effectively and efficiently to motivate pension savings in India has been partly demonstrated by states like Rajasthan and Andhra by launching co-contributory pension scheme with the states contributing financially to augment retirement savings of low-income individuals.


Indian Worker Senior Citizen Pension Scheme Pension Reform Conditional Cash Transfer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ali, I. (2007). Inequality and the imperative for inclusive growth in Asia. Asian Development Review, 24(2), 1–16.Google Scholar
  2. Alier, M., & Vittas, D. (1999). Personal pension plans and stock market volatility. In New ideas about old age security. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  3. Asher, M. G. (2000) Reforming civil service pensions in selected Asian countries (Tech. Rep.). National University of Singapore.Google Scholar
  4. Bastalgi, F. (2009). From social safety net to social policy? The role of conditional cash transfer in welfare state development in Latin America. Brasilia, DF- Brazil: Working paper no. 60, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth. Google Scholar
  5. BasudebSen. (2002). ‘India’s pension system: A critique and an agenda for reforms’ UTI.Google Scholar
  6. Bernartzi, S., & Thaler, R. H. (2004). Save more tomorrow: Using behavioral economics to increase employee savings. Journal of Political Economy, 112(1), S164–187.Google Scholar
  7. Bourguignon, F., Ferreira, F. H. G., & Leite, P. G. (2002). Ex-ante evaluation of conditional cash transfer programs: The case of Bolsa Escola (Policy research working paper series 2916). Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  8. Carmichael, J., & Pomerleano, M. (2002). The development and regulation of non banking financial institutions. Washington, DC: The International Bank of Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dave, S. A. (2000). Project OASIS – Old Age Social and Income Security. Ministry of Social Justice, Government of India.Google Scholar
  10. de Janvry, A., & Sadoulet, E. (2004). Conditional cash transfer programs: Are they really magic bullets? Berkeley: Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California at Berkeley.Google Scholar
  11. de Janvry, A., Finan, F., Sadoulet, E., & Vakis, R. (2004). Can conditional cash transfers serve as safety nets to keep children at school and out of the labor market? (UDARE Working Paper Series 0999). Berkeley: University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.Google Scholar
  12. IIMS Dataworks, with NABARD, SADHAN, ISMW, & IIMPS. (2008). Towards a financially inclusive financial system: Financial services demand and utilization by India's low income work force, Invest India Incomes and Savings Survey 2007. IIEF and IIMS Dataworks.Google Scholar
  13. ILO. (2005). Social protection as a productive factor. Geneva: ILO.Google Scholar
  14. Invest India Datworks. (2007). Invest India incomes & savings survey. New Delhi, India: IIEF & IIMS Data Works.Google Scholar
  15. Kempson, E. (1999). Saving in low-income and ethnic minority households. London: Personal Investment Authority.Google Scholar
  16. Kempson E., Whyley, C., Caskey J., & Collard, S. (2000). In or out? Financial exclusion: A literature and research review. Report, Financial Services Authority. Google Scholar
  17. MacKellar, L. E. (2009). Pension systems for the informal sector in Asia (p. Paper no. 0903). The World Bank.Google Scholar
  18. Nicholas, B. (2007). Strategic policy directions for social policy. International Social Security Association conference. Warsaw.Google Scholar
  19. Planning Commission India. (2009). Brainstorming Workshop on Conditional Cash Transfer Schemes: Issues and Challenges for Human Development. Neemrana Fort/Rajasthan: Planning Commission.Google Scholar
  20. Thaler, R. H., & Benartzi, S. (2004). Save more tomorrow: Using behavioral economics to increase employee saving. Los Angeles: University of California.Google Scholar
  21. UNDP India. (2009). Discussion paper on CCT for alleviating human poverty- relevance for India. India.Google Scholar
  22. Visaria, P. (1998). Demographics of an ageing India (Tech. Rep.). Institute of Economic Growth.Google Scholar
  23. Vittas, D., & Alier, M. (1999, November). Personal pension plans and stock market volatility. Policy Research Paper. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  24. Wolfinger, N. N. H. (2007). Does the rebound effect exist? Time to remarriage and subsequent union stability. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 46(3/4), 9–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. World Bank. (2008). The World Bank pension conceptual framework. In World Bank pension reform primer series. Washington, D.C.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer India 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.World Bank’s Strengthening Public Expenditure Management Program (SPEMP), Ministry of Finance, Government of Republic of BangladeshDhakaBangladesh

Personalised recommendations