New Social Contract: ITUC report makes economic case for social protection

A new report for the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) shows that there is a strong economic, as well as moral and public health, case for governments to introduce universal social protection.

Investments In Social Protection And Their Impacts On Economic Growth shows that there is a healthy return on investing in social protection.

By applying a robust assessment of the impact of investing the equivalent of just 1% of GDP in each of eight countries, the research shows:

  • positive returns on the economy overall, stimulating growth;
  • increased productivity and overall employment;
  • increased tax revenues;
  • more effective poverty alleviation; and
  • reduced barriers to women entering or returning to work.

In addition, the report shows that increased investments in social protection can yield between 0.7 and 1.9 times their value in economic returns. This means that the economic benefits of social spending increases can partially or completely offset the costs.

‘Time to extend social protection’

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brutally revealed the vulnerability of the world’s poorest to economic shocks and inadequate healthcare. The absence of social protection for the majority of the world’s population has meant that people have had to continue to work when they are at risk of becoming infected and infecting others, thus spreading the virus and adding to the human misery and economic destruction the world is facing.

“The time has come to extend social protection to the half of the world’s people who have none and to the almost 20% who only have only partial coverage. Many governments are finally having to recognise the urgency of social protection – including unemployment protection for people who have lost their livelihoods, paid sickness benefits and access to healthcare.”

The ITUC is calling for urgent action to create a Global Social Protection Fund to support the poorest countries in a worldwide effort to make social protection universal. The moral imperative of global solidarity to support the most vulnerable is evident, the case for public health is clear and what is good for people is good for the economy and this report underlines that.