Social protection systems help individuals and families, especially the poor and vulnerable, cope with crises and shocks, find jobs, improve productivity, invest in the health and education of their children, and protect the aging population. The World Bank Group supports universal access to social protection, and is central to its goals of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
Universal social protection coverage includes: providing social assistance through cash transfers to those who need them, especially children; benefits and support for people of working age in case of maternity, disability, work injury or for those without jobs; and pension coverage for the elderly. Assistance is provided through social insurance, tax-funded social benefits, social assistance services, public works programs and other schemes guaranteeing basic income security.
Social protection systems, figure prominently in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 1.3 calls for the implementation of “nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and vulnerable”.
Social protection systems that are well-designed and implemented can powerfully shape countries, enhance human capital and productivity, reduce inequalities, build resilience and end inter-generational cycle of poverty. Such systems and tools are transformative as they not only help the poor and most vulnerable mitigate economic and fiscal shocks, but also help ensure equality of opportunity by giving them a chance to climb out of poverty, and become productive members of society. When poor and vulnerable people have the opportunity to improve their lives and that of their families, and are less likely to move in search of a better life. Well-designed social protection programs are cost-effective, costing countries on average about 1.5 percent of GDP.
The World Bank Group’s annual lending in the Social Protection and Jobs portfolio, as of as of April 2019, reached $16.24 billion with $10.83 billion in lending to IDA countries, targeting the world’s poorest. These resources support safety net programs, including cash transfers, public works, and school feeding programs.
Jobs, too, are critical in reducing poverty and promoting prosperity. All countries, regardless of income, face challenges creating and sustaining adequate job opportunities for their citizens. The World Bank Group is ensuring that individuals are equipped and trained with the right skills for the labor market.
Today, our social protection systems not only deliver social assistance and insurance to the poor and vulnerable, but are also used to link them to jobs, improve productivity, invest in the health and education of their children, and protect the aging population. While achievements in designing and promoting the adoption of social assistance programs and delivery systems have been made, investing heavily in initiatives to improve jobs and earnings opportunities, and the expansion of social insurance programs are equally important.
Last Updated: Mar 28, 2019