Built to Include: Reimagining Social Protection in the Middle East and North Africa

Submitted by pmassetti on

worldbank.org (June 2023) Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, limited work opportunities and low-productivity informal work have played a significant role in increasing poverty and vulnerability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. While job creation depends on a dynamic, competitive, and vibrant private sector, the new World Bank report, Built to Include: Reimagining Social Protection Systems in the Middle East and North Africa, argues that strong social protection policies are also essential to reducing labor market exclusion by facilitating access to productive employment, protecting workers, and providing a safety net for people that are left behind. However, according to the report, social protection policies in MENA countries are falling short of that role. For example, most of the poor do not receive income support, and most workers are not covered by pensions or unemployment insurance, while labor policies provide limited effective protection to workers and do little to help people gain good jobs. To address these challenges, the report identifies reform priorities to make social protection systems in MENA more inclusive and efficient, including building shock-responsive delivery systems for social protection, expanding income support and opportunities for the poor, expanding social insurance to informal workers, re-designing pension systems to support active ageing, reforming generalized food and energy subsidies, and mobilizing additional revenue for social protection in a progressive manner. But in order to ensure success, garnering political support through clear and consistent communication will be vital, as will the proper packaging and sequencing of reforms.

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