Creating fiscal space for universal social pensions: Taxing the top 1%

Expanding fiscal space for social protection

Universal basic income (UBI) is emerging as one of the most hotly debated issues in development and social protection policy. But what are the features of UBI? What is it meant to achieve? How do we know, and what don’t we know, about its performance? What does it take to implement it in practice? Drawing from global evidence, literature, and survey data, this volume provides a framework to elucidate issues and trade-offs in UBI with a view to help inform choices around its appropriateness and feasibility in different contexts.

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This practical handbook is an essential companion to assess financing options to extend social protection coverage and benefits. This guide demonstrates that there are alternatives even in the poorest countries.

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Social security is a human right but it is not yet a reality. Only 45 per cent of the global population are effectively covered by at least one social protection benefit, while the remaining 55 per cent – as many as 4 billion people – are unprotected. Closing the coverage gap will require additional investments in social protection, which can and should be achieved by increasing the “fiscal space” for social protection.

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Social protection policies can help address the multifaceted nature of child poverty and improve children’s well-being, especially in the areas of education, health and nutrition. Providing adequate social protection to children is particularly relevant in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as multidimensional child poverty remains a major concern in the region. Moreover, a large share of the population of MENA will soon transition into their most productive age, clearing the way for a demographic dividend.

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Child poverty remains an issue of concern in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Although the region has made significant progress in reducing extreme poverty and improving health, education and child survival rates, progress has been uneven. Higher-income countries have advanced more than lower-middle-income ones, and those impacted by humanitarian conflicts have seen reversals in child well-being indicators.

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The “Fiscal space for child-sensitive social protection in the MENA region” study aims to assess how MENA countries can expand financing of child-sensitive social protection financing in a sustainable manner, and how to create fiscal space and accelerate investments in social protection while highlighting the limitations of deficit financing and other revenue-increasing alternatives.  

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Making Fiscal Space for Social Protection in Zambia

Social security and taxation operate jointly to overcome individual deprivations, reduce income inequality and promote development, bringing ‘taxation into social protection analysis and planning’. There are several ways in which governments can create fiscal space to finance social protection programmes (e.g. social pensions). The idea is to create new sources of revenue – sustainable in the long-run – which can be used to finance social pensions, without building new liabilities and without distorting macroeconomic stability.

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