4 billion people around the world lack social protection, a new International Labour Organization (ILO) report, World Social Protection Report 2020-22: Social protection at the crossroads says.
Social protection includes access to health care and income security, particularly in relation to old age, unemployment, sickness, disability, work injury, maternity or loss of a main income earner, as well as for families with children.
There exists a widening gap between countries with high and low-income levels and failing to afford the much-needed social protection that all human beings deserve.
ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, explained, These can cushion people from future crises and give workers and businesses the security to tackle the multiple transitions ahead with confidence and with hope. We must recognize that effective and comprehensive social protection is not just essential for social justice and decent work but for creating a sustainable and resilient future too.”
Currently, only 47 per cent of the global population are effectively covered by at least one social protection benefit, while 4.1 billion people (53 per cent) obtain no income security at all from their national social protection system. There are significant regional inequalities in social protection. Europe and Central Asia have the highest rates of coverage, with 84 per cent of people being covered by at least one benefit. The Americas are also above the global average, with 64.3 per cent. Asia and the Pacific (44 per cent), the Arab States (40 per cent) and Africa (17.4 per cent) have marked coverage gaps.
Worldwide, the vast majority of children still have no effective social protection coverage – only one in four children (26.4 per cent) receives a social protection benefit. Only 45 per cent of women with newborns worldwide receive a cash maternity benefit. Only one in three persons with severe disabilities (33.5 per cent) worldwide receive a disability benefit. Coverage of unemployment benefits is even lower; only 18.6 per cent of unemployed workers worldwide are effectively covered. And while 77.5 per cent of people above retirement age receive some form of old-age pension, major disparities remain across regions, between rural and urban areas, and between women and men.
Government spending on social protection also varies significantly. On average, countries spend 12.8 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on social protection (excluding health), however high-income countries spend 16.4 per cent and low-income countries only 1.1 per cent of their GDP on social protection.
To guarantee at least basic social protection coverage, low-income countries would need to invest an additional US$77.9 billion per year, lower-middle-income countries an additional US$362.9 billion per year and upper-middle-income countries a further US$750.8 billion per year. That’s equivalent to 15.9, 5.1 and 3.1 per cent of their GDP, respectively.