Poverty, Economic and Social Development and the Right to Social Security within the Global Decent Work Debate
This paper summarises arguments developed over recent years at the ILO. Providing a synopsis of the ILO view of the role of social security in the context of globalisation and in terms of national economic and social development, the paper exposes the rationale behind the 2003 Global Campaign on Social Security and Coverage for All.
The paper presents the historical, economic and fiscal arguments put forward by the ILO which seek to counter the conventional "grow first, distribute later" economic view which perceives a need to contain social expenditure. The position of the ILO suggests that it is possible for countries to grow with equity, i.e. provide some form of social protection from some early stages of their development, and that social security systems can be seen as an investment in productivity; enhancing social stability, reducing poverty, improving the health of the population and creating a more conducive environment for entrepreneurship.
On this pretext the paper lays out the ILO's proposal for the adoption of an approach to social security provision centred on the guarantee of a "basic social security floor" for all citizens/ residents. This concept is based on a framework of four essential social security guarantees: access to basic health benefits, income security for children with the aim of facilitating access to basic education and health, targeted income support for the poor and unemployed and basic pensions to provide income security for people in old age, those with disabilities and survivors. In essence this framework is applicable in any country, with suitable adaptations to fit national circumstances.
Moreover, examples are given of ILO actuarial calculations undertaken in 12 developing countries which indicate that the provision of a social security floor is crucially fiscally affordable in low-income countries. The final part of the paper documents numerous examples of the successful implementation of various elements of a social security "floor" across a range of Asian countries.
Technical Paper published at the ILO Asia-Pacific Regional High-Level Meeting on Socially-Inclusive Strategies to Extend Social Security Coverage, held in New Delhi, India, 19-20 May 2008.