Extending Social Security: Policies for Developing Countries

Extension of Social Security Paper No. 13

88 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2005

Date Written: 2003


This paper reviews the main trends and policy issues with regard to the extension of social security in developing countries. It begins by defining the concept of social security, and it examines its linkages with the development process and its impact on poverty reduction.

It then reviews the four main social security programmes, i.e. health insurance, pensions, unemployment protection and tax-based social benefits. It shows that in many middle-income countries, statutory social insurance can form the basis for the extension process. However, this is generally not so in the low-income countries, where only a small minority of the population is covered by social security. In particular for these countries, the paper pleads for experimentation with area-based schemes. It also recognizes the need for additional international financing of some basic social security schemes, if coverage is to be extended to everyone over the next 15 to 25 years. The paper also examines the gender dimension of the extension process.

The paper concludes with outlining some key elements of national and international strategies. Social security should be recognized as a major instrument to deal with some of the negative social consequences of globalization. National policies should consist of improving and reforming statutory social insurance programmes, of promoting community- and area-based social insurance schemes, and of enhancing cost-effective tax-financed social benefits. At the international level, there is a need for a few simple indicators on social security coverage, for advocacy measures to get social security at the top of the development agenda, for experimentation with new mechanisms to reach workers in the informal economy, as well as for knowledge development and technical assistance. Many of these elements will be included in the "Global campaign on social security and coverage for all" that the ILO is to launch at the beginning of 2003.

Keywords: social security, social policy, developing countries

Suggested Citation

van Ginneken, Wouter, Extending Social Security: Policies for Developing Countries (2003). Extension of Social Security Paper No. 13, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=673121 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.673121

Wouter Van Ginneken (Contact Author)

International Labour Office ( email )

CH-1211 Geneva 22

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