Using household surveys from 17 Latin American countries over 2009–2018, we analyze contributory pension coverage for the economically active population (EAP) and contributory/non-contributory pension coverage for older persons. Nine countries have “private” and eight have “public” pension systems. Inequalities in gender, income, education, location and firm size affect both coverage of the EAP and the elderly. Rather than being affected by the type of pension system – private or public –, coverage depends on structural features of the labour market and public policy interventions. Our findings confirm current understanding that level of development is directly related with coverage whereas inequality and informality are inversely related with coverage. Based on these results, we recomend policy interventions.