The aim of this paper is to make an assessment of the 2011 reform of the public pension system in Spain using the Swedish pension system as a benchmark, although some reference to the US pension system is also made. The paper focuses on the reform, explaining its aims, breaking down the main contents, critically examining the official view and describing the expected ageing of the Spanish population. This approach complements the quantitative analyses performed by other researchers and will enable us to assess the reformed system with the focus on four main areas: actuarial fairness, actuarial transparency, solvency and communication with the public. The main conclusion is that the reform was a wasted opportunity given that Spain did not take advantage of the lessons learned in Sweden, it did not include any elements for improving the management of pay-as-you-go systems, and there is no sound basis for claiming that the system's sustainability is assured in the medium term, the long term or even the short term. The new parametric reforms currently under consideration in Spain are targeted to correct some of the pension system's design faults that have been highlighted in this paper.