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Universal social protection needs more financing, says ILO

Umberto Cattaneo, Public Finance Economist, International Labour Organization in New York. 24/04/2024   -  
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International Labour Organization

*An additional***US$**1.4 trillion is needed to achieve universal social protection across low- and middle-income countries, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters in New York, the ILO’s Public Finance Economist Umberto Cattaneo said that the financing gap to achieve universal protection remains high, especially for low-income countries. 

 “When we look at all low- and middle-income countries, we have a financing gap of 3.3 percent of GDP. But when we go to low-income countries, this goes up to 52.3 percent of their GDP," he said. 

"Bridging this gap across all low- and middle-income countries requires an additional US$1.4 trillion.”

Regional disparities

Regionally, Africa is facing the biggest challenge in achieving universal coverage, with a financing gap of 17.6 percent of regional GDP per year.

This is followed by low- and middle-income countries in the Arab states with a financing gap of 11.4 percent of regional GDP and Latin American and the Caribbean with a gap of 2.7 percent.

Bridging the gap

Cattaneo told reporters that closing this gap will require "domestic resource mobilisation, including progressive taxation and social security contributions."

He added that development assistance for low-income countries should be tripled, with all additional funding allocated to social protection. 

Universal social protection is considered a key target in achieving the first of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals focused on poverty.

According to ILO statistics, today, 4.1 billion people worldwide still lack social protection. 

Only 29% of the world’s population has adequate social security coverage and 55% lacks any coverage at all.