Recent decades have been characterised by significant pension reforms. This article reviews this process, focusing on five policy design issues that have concerned policymakers: optimising poverty alleviation effectiveness; redefining the state's role in smoothing incomes over the life-course; balancing contributions to benefits; adjusting the system to respond to demographic, economic and social changes; and ensuring that reforms will be long-lasting. While the role of state pensions is diminishing, there is a growing realisation of the need to ensure that they remain adequate, reigniting interest in minimum pensions and contribution credits. [---]