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World Labour Report 2000: Income security and social protection in a changing world

Type of Toolreport
Region(s) / Country(ies)Interregional
Informal Economy AspectsSocial protection
Web links
 - Direct link to entry in ILO Library (Labordoc)
 - Link to purchase ILO Publications online
Keyword(s)social protection, social security

Drawing on worldwide data, examines the role played by social protection in supporting, supplementing and replacing market incomes in the event of old age, incapacity for work, bearing and raising children, and unemployment.

Part I of the report examines the extent of income insecurity and the changing context to which income security policies are having to respond. Demographic, family and labour market structures (Chapter 2) all have decisive effects on income security and are undergoing enormous changes, many of which are interrelated, such as increasing participation of women in formal employment, declining birth rates, reduced capacity of the extended family to provide the care necessary for the young and the elderly, and so on. Not only do changes in these areas have critical implications for social needs, but employment and demo­graphic trends will greatly affect the adequacy of society¿s response. Social secur­ity expenditure and the economy (Chapter 3) constitute a crucial part of the changing context. The trends in expenditure as a percentage of GDP are described and projections are presented. An analysis is made of the effects which social pro­tection is often alleged to have on economic performance.

Part II focuses on existing mechanisms of social protection. Health care (Chapter 4) is in a category of its own, as its objective is not to provide a replacement income, but rather to maintain or restore people's health (and thereby their earning potential) - and to finance this care in a way that ensures accessibility to all and avoids placing large and sudden demands on their budgets. Social protec­tion during incapacity (Chapter 5) addresses the need of working people for an alternative source of income during sickness or disability. Old-age and survivors' pensions (Chapter 6) are almost invariably the largest component in social protec­tion expenditure and, along with health care, probably the one which has most impact on people's lives - in particular on whether they can enjoy their later years in dignity and security. Unemployment benefit (Chapter 7) is much less widespread than other forms of social protection, but its existence is increasingly recognized as a crucial ingredient in a well-functioning market economy. Social benefits for parents and children (Chapter 8) have suffered relative neglect in recent decades, but the problems of child labour and of mounting child poverty suggest that these benefits are as relevant as ever, not only for happiness in childhood but also for earning power later on in adult life. In no country are other social protection programmes so comprehensive that it is possible to do without social assistance (Chapter 9) which, for all its drawbacks, constitutes a minimum form of security which all societies should strive to provide.

Part III looks to future needs and prospects. Of greatest concern is the need to extend the coverage of social protection to the majority of the world's population who still have none (Chapter 10). Social protection systems face many other challenges which call for restructuring and innovation (Chapter 11). These include: the evolution of gender roles and the demand for gender equality; the changing nature of the labour market and the need to ensure an appropriate combination of flexibility and security; and the public demand for democratically managed schemes upon which they can rely for courteous and efficient service. Finally, without in any way producing a blueprint, the report proposes some broad policy conclusions (Chapter 12) about the way in which social protection systems should develop in the twenty-first century.

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Last update: 05 April 2005