Social Protection for Recovery: Europe and Central Asia Economic Update

Globalization, demographic trends, the green transition, and technological innovations are transforming labor markets in Europe and Central Asia, altering their institutional and contractual arrangements, and creating disparities and vulnerabilities in the labor force. Systemic risks—economic, health, or climate-related—are also playing an increased role in driving poverty and vulnerability. Social protection systems in Europe and Central Asia will need to be reformed to address these challenges and provide adequate protection to workers and families. Countries in the region responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing social protection packages with a substantial contribution of job protection policies. Analysis of the impact of these policies suggests that while job protection policies may have preserved employment in the short run, this may have come at the expense of efficiency and growth. In the long run, income protection policies may be better at addressing the needs of vulnerable groups as labor markets continue evolving. A policy package that combines a guaranteed minimum income with labor market policies that facilitate job transitions can best help countries address long-term challenges.