Early Pension Withdrawals in Chile During the Pandemic
Chile, with one of the largest and best funded defined contribution programs in Latin America, held over USD $200 bn in assets at the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, or more than 80% of GDP. Reacting to populist pressures during the pandemic, however, the government gave non-retired participants three separate opportunities to tap into their retirement accounts, leaving some 4.2 million participants with zero retirement savings and draining around $50 bn from the system. This paper explores several hypotheses regarding why people withdrew their pension money early, and it also presents evidence regarding the likely impact of this short-term policy on long-term retirement wellbeing. We conclude with lessons for global policymakers seeking to protect pension assets critical for retirement security.