Stronger Social Protection and Labor Systems in Central America for a Resilient and Inclusive Recovery

Social Protection and Labor (SPL) Systems help individuals and societies manage risk and volatility and protect them from poverty through instruments that address the challenges of resilience, equity and opportunity. SPL systems include social safety nets, social insurance, and labor market programs. As recent events have shown, the relative emphasis among goals – resilience, equity and opportunity - can change over time, with demands put on SPL program design and delivery systems differing in each context. In relatively stable times, programs are likely to focus on human capital formation, equality of opportunity, poverty reduction, and redistribution. This was the case in Central America prior to the COVID-19 emergency, albeit with some shortcomings. The goal of shock-responsiveness (resilience) dramatically came to the fore during the pandemic, even if recognized earlier during natural disasters and now more broadly with climate change. Globally and in Central America, SPL systems had a critical role in the response to the COVID-19 emergency.