Can low-income countries afford basic social security?

The evidence presented shows that low-income countries not only should but also can have social security systems that provide a basic package of health services to everybody, basic cash benefits to the elderly and to families with children and social assistance to a proportion of the unemployed. Even if a complete basic social protection package cannot be implemented at once, a sequential approach can generate immediate benefits in terms of poverty reduction, pro-poor growth and social development. A national forward-looking social protection strategy can help to sequence the implementation of various social programmes and policy instruments and ensure that these are integrated in broader development frameworks. As these countries achieve higher levels of economic development, their social security systems can also advance in parallel, extending the scope, level and quality of benefits and services provided.