This article is a critical assessment of a report on pensions recently published by the World Bank. It takes issue with the report's assertion that public pension systems have failed both socially and economically, demonstrating that many of the shortcomings identified by the World Bank apply with equal or greater force to private systems. It argues that the strategy outlined in the report, involving the replacement of social insurance by mandatory savings schemes, would involve an unacceptably high degree of risk for workers and pensioners, that it would make old-age protection more costly, and that the transition would impose a heavy burden on the current generation of workers. The article concludes that a more efficient and less disruptive approach to the provision of retirement pension would be to focus efforts on measures to rectify design deficiencies and inequities in existing schemes.