Although Latin American populations are ageing rapidly, many countries have important shortcomings in terms of access to social security coverage. Despite significant improvements regarding access to healthcare, the coverage gap in terms of pensions represents a major challenge for public health and equity in the region. The principal aim of this study was to systematically assess the association between social security coverage and disability among older individuals in five Latin American countries, as well as the extent of existing inequalities and its determinants. To do so we use cross-sectional and comparative data for individuals aged 60 and older in Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Paraguay and Uruguay from the Longitudinal Social Protection Survey (ELPS). We used multivariate regression to assess the association between disability and healthcare as well as pension coverage. Concentration indices (CI) and an Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition approach were used to assess overall inequalities in disability according to education as well as their components. With the exception of El Salvador, we find significant inequalities in disability disfavoring lower educated individuals. With regards to healthcare, we find no significant association of healthcare coverage with disability in any of the five countries, nor does it explain educational inequalities in disability. However, pension access was associated with lower risks of disability in Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay, and explains a substantial share of educational inequality in Chile, Colombia and Paraguay. Whereas significant changes have already been made regarding universal healthcare coverage, the results suggest that expanding access to pensions may not only lead to improvements in health among older individuals in the region, but also substantially reduce socio-economic inequalities in health and successful ageing.

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Keywords Latin America, Disability, Inequality, Pension, Healthcare
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Journal Social Science & Medicine
Hessel, P, Sayer, P., & Riumallo-Herl, C. (2019). Educational inequalities in disability linked to social security coverage among older individuals in five Latin American countries. Social Science & Medicine. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.112378