Statistical knowledge base

Timely, reliable, accurate and comparable data are crucial for the formulation, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment of social protection policies and programmes at the national and global levels. Since 1940, the ILO has collected and analysed quantitative information on social protection schemes around the world. The ILO utilizes the following instruments as international standards for the production of social protection indicators:
The ILO World Social Protection Database (WSPD) is the primary source of global data on social protection and is used by policymakers, officials of international organizations and researchers. The objective of the WSPD is to collect, store and disseminate comparable global statistical data on social security. These data support ILO research initiatives to generate innovative solutions to promote the effectiveness, coverage and sustainability of social protection programmes and to advance advocacy propositions.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 reflect the joint commitment of countries to “implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors” for reducing and preventing poverty (SDG target 1.3). This commitment to universalism reaffirms the global agreement on the extension of social security achieved by ILO Recommendation No. 202, adopted in 2012 by Governments and workers’ and employers’ organizations from all countries. The ILO is the reporting custodian for SDG indicator 1.3.1 at the global level, which measures the proportion of global, regional and country populations covered by the various social protection categories defined by ILO Convention No. 102.

The ILO Social Protection Department undertakes several areas of activities in the field of statistics. These include:
  • building the WSPD to collect in-depth, country-level and aggregate statistics of social protection financing methods, expenditure, benefit levels and coverage experience. The Department periodically disseminates comparable statistics of global social protection programmes by means of thematic studies as well as the World Social Protection Report, which is published triennially;
  • developing and applying methodological tools to monitor the various dimensions of social protection systems and key indicators for the benefit of ILO constituent members, national policymakers, officials of international organizations and academic researchers. The WSPD and methodological data tools are currently being applied to monitor the indicators under SDG target 1.3;
  • developing and implementing tools that include the Social Protection Monitor, which examines the latest global social protection development trends. The Social Security Inquiry is a country-level data-collection system that facilitates the generation of national and regional statistics: it is the main data source for the World Social Protection Report, as well as the reporting on SDG indicator 1.3.1. Other tools, such as the Social Protection Floor Cost Calculator and the Rapid Assessment Protocol, assist ILO constituent members to carry out preliminary costing of current and prospective social protection programmes; providing technical assistance and training to ILO constituent members, in collaboration with ILO field offices, to enhance the national capacity to generate comprehensive and reliable social protection data. Once generated, these data are utilized by the tripartite partners to define their national social protection priorities and policies, to improve the effectiveness and scope of existing schemes, and to design and implement new programmes.