Systems providing financial security for the old are under increasing strain throughout the world. Rapid demographic transitions caused by rising life expectancy and declining fertility mean that the proportion of old to young is growing rapidly. Traditional safety nets, such as community and extended family care are weakening under the weight of this growing burden. Also in peril are the formal systems, such as government backed pensions, which have proven to be both unstable and difficult to reform. The result is an impending old age crisis that threatens not only the old but also their children and grandchildren who will inevitably shoulder this burden. This study is the first comprehensive, global examiniation of this complex and pressing set of issues. The study identifies three functions of old age financial security systems: redistribution, saving and insurance. It evaluates the policy options for meeting these according to two criteria -- their impact on the aged and the impact on the economy as a whole. The study concludes that financial security for the old would be better served if governments developed three systems, or "" pillars "" of old age security: 1) a publicly managed system with mandatory participation and the limited goal of reducing poverty among the old; 2) a privately managed, mandatory savings systems; and 3) voluntary savings.