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Publication Details

Extending social security coverage in the context of high economic informality in low income countries

how possible, affordable and desirable is this?

Nuno Cunha
Phillippe Marcadent
Ian Orton


This paper aims to focus on the possibilities for extending social protection [SP] coverage in low income countries (with a particular focus in Mozambique) in the context of high economic informality and along those lines indicated in the ILO’s social floor comprising of a basic set of social security guarantees. We explore how applicable a `social floor’ would be in the context of low income countries. Thus we explore whether it is possible, affordable and desirable to extend SP to workers and their families operating in the informal economy? What does the available evidence have to say about this? What can be the steps and ways to channel progressively, efficiently and swiftly, a basic set of social guarantees to all? To do this we will primarily consider extension of SP at a global level and then on more specific examples (i.e. Mozambique). Furthermore, in developing countries there is a significant gap between the current level of investment in SP and sufficient funding for there to be a decent level of coverage. Thus the pivotal question is what can be done to reduce this gap. To answer these questions we perform an assessment of the difficulties confronting extension, and indentify the reasons behind the lack of coverage, with specific reference to original data from the Mozambique. The proposal is then to review the existing literature on the main solutions that have been implemented thus far, comparing the results in the level of coverage, but also the existing evidence regarding different dimensions of poverty and vulnerability. The paper will pinpoint existing studies and gaps in research and proposals to bridge this knowledge gap with particular reference to affordability and fiscal space considerations. When possible, this paper will draw on the analysis of literature and empirical data from Mozambique and comparable countries (both from ILO and secondary sources, including official statistical data in Mozambique). Evidence on existing schemes and their impact will draw extensively on the worldwide research performed for an ILO matrix on the impact of social transfers and a forthcoming  ILO publication: A Compendium on a basic set of social security guarantees.

Publication Type(s)

Conference Paper

Ten Years of War Against Poverty Conference Papers

Conference: Ten Years of War Against Poverty


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