The New Social Protection Paradigm and Universal Coverage
Edited by Rana Jawad, Nicola Jones and Mahmood Messkoub
Chapter 3: Social protection schemes in the Middle East and North Africa: not fair, not efficient, not effective
Social protection systems have a triple function in the development process: a socio-economic one (to reduce inequality and poverty in all its dimensions), an economic one (to reduce the vulnerability of households and thereby encourage them to become economically active) and a societal and political one (to strengthen social inclusion, social solidarity social cohesion and the stability of society and polity). Social protection systems in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), however, fail largely with respect to all three functions. Governments in the region spend considerable shares of GDP on social protection but these are typically used for inefficient and inegalitarian instruments. Most public social protection schemes cover only parts of the population or provide different degrees of social security to different population groups, thereby replicating and intensifying the existing stratification of society. As a result, they exclude large parts of society from membership, redistribute resources from the bottom up rather than to the poor and therefore have only limited effects of poverty, inequality, economic investment and growth, social inclusion and social cohesion. At the same time, most schemes also suffer from significant deficits with regards to efficiency and sustainability.
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