Given all the news that pension reform is making in Eastern European countries, it’s easy to mistakenly believe that the problem is simply a holdover from ex-Communist pension systems. While their public pension systems certainly don’t help the cause, the real problem goes much deeper. Eastern Europe is unique as an emerging market as its demographic situation is more in line with developed markets than other emerging markets. Most emerging markets are projected to experience strong population growth in the coming decades, while Eastern Europe is currently experiencing negative population growth. This population decline is expected to dramatically increase national debt burdens throughout the region due to increased spending on pensions, healthcare and social services, creating a fiscal situation that will be unsustainable unless countries move forward with substantial reform of their pension systems.