ESS Paper Series (SECSOC) - ESS 48

Fiscal space for social protection. Options to expand social investments in 187 countries

This paper presents eight financing alternatives, based on policy positions by the United Nations and international financial institutions, and shows that fiscal space for social protection exists even in the poorest countries.

It is often argued that social protection is not affordable or that government expenditure cuts are inevitable during adjustment periods. But there are alternatives, even in the poorest countries. This working paper offers an array of options that can be explored to expand fiscal space and generate resources for social investments. These include: (i) re-allocating public expenditures; (ii) increasing tax revenues; (iii) expanding social security coverage and contributory revenues; (iv) lobbying for aid and transfers; (v) eliminating illicit financial flows; (vi) using fiscal and foreign exchange reserves; (vii) borrowing or restructuring existing debt and; (viii) adopting a more accommodative macroeconomic framework. To serve as a general advocacy resource, Annex 1 provides a summary of the latest fiscal space indicators for 187 countries