A Social Protection Floor Index: Monitoring National Social Protection Policy Implementation

This publication summarizes the results of the 101st International Labour Conference in 2012, where184 members unanimously adopted the Social Protection Floors (SPFs) Recommendation No. 202, which provides guidance to members for establishing and maintaining SPFs as a core element of their national social security systems, guaranteeing access to essential health care and a basic income over the life cycle. In support of the principle of regular monitoring, the Social Protection Floor Index (SPFI) has been developed. It assesses the degree of implementation of national SPFs, by detecting protection gaps in the health and income dimension and indicating the magnitude of financial resources needed to close these gaps in relation to a country’s economic capacity. The SPFI thus informs members, trade unions, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders about the need for corrective policy action, compares the implementation of SPFs across members, and, in future, monitors members’ progress over time. In the long run, it is hoped that the SPFI can contribute to achieving a fairer and more inclusive globalization.

The Social Protection Floor Index (SPFI) is a composite indicator that captures the implementation of the four basic social security guarantees in two dimensions. On the one hand, income security means access to a basic level of income during childhood, adult life, and old age. On the other hand, health security encompasses universal access to essential health care. Rather than looking at attainments, the degree of implementation of these basic social security guarantees is assessed by detecting protection gaps in the income and health dimension respectively. These shortfalls are expressed in terms of the share of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that would be required to close these gaps, and are finally aggregated over the two dimensions.

This discussion paper presents results for the reference year 2012—the year the Recommendation was adopted—which can then be seen as baseline for future monitoring. The SPFI allows members and other stakeholders — e.g., trade unions or civil society organizations — to measure national SPF policy implementation by detecting current shortcomings; to use this information to initiate more in-depth analysis and corrective policy action; to compare the current implementation of SPFs across members and rank them according to the size of their gaps, possibly distinguishing between different states of economic development or geographical regions; and, in future, to monitor members’ progress over time. In the long run, it is hoped that the SPFI can contribute to a fairer and more inclusive globalization.