Baseline survey: Public awareness of pension and social service systems reforms

In 2013, the USAID-funded Pension Reform Implementation Project (PRIP) initiated a baseline survey of the Armenian population’s awareness, understanding, and perception of the country’s ongoing reforms in pension and social services systems. The findings of the survey, which was conducted by the local AM Partners Consulting Company between December 2013 and February 2014, will be presented to key stakeholders on March 26, 2014 at PRIP’s Office in Yerevan.

The baseline survey targeted people 18-62 years of age at 1,200 households of Yerevan and Ararat and Kotayk regions. Four hundred face-to-face interviews were conducted in each region, of which731 in urban areas and 469 in rural communities. The survey revealed that:

–        Eighty-six percent of the respondents had heard about the current pension reforms in Armenia, which was a sharp increase in awareness since 2010, when only 36 percent of respondents had heard of the pension reforms following the adoption of the Law on Introduction of Mandatory Fully Funded System. At the same time, almost half of the respondents who wereagainst the introduction of the Mandatory Fully Funded Component said they had positively changed their perception once they learned more about the new system and the possibilities it offered to earn income from pension contributions.

–        People were more aware of general aspects of the pension reform (e.g. introduction date and participants’ age groups) than technical characteristics, such as types of pension accounts and pension funds management.

–        Both men and women demonstrated nearly equal level of awareness of the reform, at 85% and 86% of all respondents, respectively. Awareness and perceptions significantly differed depending on the respondent’s age and region of residence. Awareness was relatively higher in urban areas (89%)versus rural (80%).Perception of the need for reformwas relatively higher among youth (32%) compared to people aged 40 and older(13%). Nearly 40 percent of respondents living in the regions agreed with the mandatory approach to pension accumulations versus 21% average in capital Yerevan. Overall, the closer people were to the pension age, the higher their awareness level was on pension reforms.

–        Sixty-three percent of respondents opined that the pension reforms were not justified, and 67 percent were against the mandatory pillar. The perception was mainly linked with distrust towards the State and the current authorities, as well as the high unemployment rate and low remuneration.

Survey results will be used by the Pension System Awareness Center Foundation of Armenia to design awareness raising initiatives that will help explain the multi-pillar pension reform to the public at large.

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