Social Policy in a Developing World

Social Policy in a Developing World

Edited by Rebecca Surender and Robert Walker

This volume provides a critical analysis of the challenges and opportunities facing social protection systems in the global south, and examines current strategies for addressing poverty and welfare needs in the region. In particular, the text explores the extent to which the analytic models and concepts for the study of social policy in the industrialised North are relevant in a developing country context. The volume analyses the various institutions, actors, instruments and mechanisms involved in the welfare arrangements of developing countries and provides a study of the contexts, development and future trajectory of social policy in the global South.

Chapter 7: Social security: risks, needs and protection

Robert Walker

Subjects: development studies, development studies, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, social policy in emerging countries


Social security is a basic human right and has been recognized as such internationally since 1919 when it was included as one of the core pillars of the constitutional mandate of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Article 22 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights further lays down that: ‘Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international cooperation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.’ The reality, however, is that the majority of people who enjoy this right live in the global North, while the mass of individuals living in developing countries generally have no or limited access to any social security other than that provided by family and friends. Twenty per cent of people in developing countries live in abject poverty, which is arguably the antithesis of social security (ILO 2010a). It should be recognized that social security is both a goal and the mechanism (increasingly a range of mechanisms that offer cash and cash-like provisions) by which the goal of social security is achieved. The goal of social security, it is usually argued, requires provision to protect persons against inadequate income caused by sickness, disability, maternity, employment injury, unemployment, old age, the death of a family member, or by insufficient family support, leading to the risk of poverty.

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