In a world filled with risk and potential, social protection and labor systems help people and families find jobs, improve productivity, cope with shocks, invest in the health and education of their children, as well as the protection for the aging population.
Social protection programs, which comprise both social assistance (such as cash transfers, school feeding, targeted food assistance and subsidies) and social insurance (such as old-age, survivorship, disability pensions, and unemployment insurance), are a powerful tool to reduce poverty and vulnerability. They can have a direct, positive impact on poor families by building human capital through better health, more schooling, and greater skills.
Jobs, too, are critical for reducing poverty and promoting prosperity. All countries, regardless of income, face challenges creating and sustaining adequate job opportunities for their citizens. According to the 2013 World Development Report, advancing the global jobs agenda will require the right investment in people – the right skills for people to secure good jobs, the right protection for people against risks arising from volatile economies, and the right mechanisms to help people transition smoothly and safely from one job to another.
The World Bank supports social protection and labor programs in developing countries as a central part of its mission to reduce poverty through sustainable and inclusive growth. The Bank almost tripled its social protection and labor lending in the last few years to help countries respond to the food, fuel and financial crises -- from an annual average of $1.6 billion in 1998-2008, to an annual average of $4.2 billion for 2009-2011.