In the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs framework, countries need to intensify their efforts to improve their national social protection monitoring and evaluation systems, including by strengthening their statistical systems. Strong national statistical systems on social protection are a necessary condition to ensure the adequate monitoring of progress at both the national and international levels.
The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the great urgency of improving the monitoring of progress in the development of social protection systems. The lack of robust statistical systems, including the scarcity of data on coverage gaps to determine which groups are being left behind, as well as the scarcity of data on the financing needs associated with such coverage gaps, puts at risk the realization of the policy objectives of the 2030 Agenda.
SDG target 1.3 aims to "Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable". SDG indicator 1.3.1 seeks to measure the "Proportion of population covered by social protection floors/systems, by sex, distinguishing children, unemployed persons, older persons, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, newborns, work-injury victims and the poor and the vulnerable". According to this definition, effective monitoring must address the multiple dimensions of social protection systems.
Approach and Technical Support
- The World Social Protection Database is the primary source of global data on social protection and provides a wealth of unique information that offers critical support to decision-makers and development stakeholders. The database provides in-depth country-level statistics on various dimensions of social protection systems, including key indicators on coverage, adequacy and expenditure on social protection for policymakers, officials of international organizations and researchers and the United Nations monitoring of the SDGs.
- Most of the data in the ILO World Social Protection Database are collected through the Social Security Inquiry (SSI), which is an online tool for the periodic collection of administrative data from national ministries of labour, finance, social security, welfare and/or social development, as well as other ministries, and is complemented by existing international and national data sources.
- In 2019, the ILO Social Protection Department launched a set of interactive dashboards for data visualization on social protection, comprising detailed information at the global, regional and national levels that is updated continuously. The new data visualization tools provide access to information on the legal configuration of social protection systems at the national level; the design of existing contributory and non-contributory social protection programmes; demographics; the legal and effective coverage of the systems; the number of beneficiaries; benefit levels; and the revenue and expenditure of schemes.
- The ILO’s forthcoming Guide on Developing National Systems of Social Protection Statistics aims to provide its constituents (governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations), policymakers, practitioners and other stakeholers in developing countries with a practical tool to assist them in developing national systems of social protection statistics and in the further production and use of consolidated, comprehensive, reliable and quality social protection statistics for the effective monitoring and evaluation of social protection systems.
Despite ongoing advances in the development of databases, instruments and processes of data collection, which have led to significant improvements in the availability of data on social protection in terms of the number of countries covered, nonetheless significant challenges remain in terms of data content and the quality and timeliness of the information collected. The ILO articulates its support to Member States throughout continuous assistance in the field of national data compilation; definitions; monitoring of progress towards achieving the SDGs; developing monitoring and evaluation frameworks; effective dissemination of data and interpretation of the results; and building national systems of social protection statistics.
Basic SSI data compilation/update conducted in all countries
The ILO has been appointed the custodian agency responsible for data compilation on SDG indicator 1.3.1 (see box 1) at a global level and reports every year to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). The exercise of data compilation is a continuous process that covers about 60 countries per year, so that over a three-year period all Member States will have been provided with an updated set of indicators.
The ILO’s Social Protection Department disseminates comparable statistics on global social protection programmes periodically through thematic studies and the World Social Protection Report, a flagship ILO publication issued every three years that includes information on the legal and effective coverage of social protection systems, contributory and non-contributory programmes, indicators of adequacy of benefits, social protection expenditure and other topics for more than 200 countries and territories.
The data in all countries are compiled through the government directly or through national or international consultants using the online SSI tool. The SSI questionnaire has become the primary tool for compiling data on social protection coverage for children, unemployed persons, older persons, persons with disabilities, women with newborns, work-injury victims and the poor and the vulnerable. In addition, indicators on the adequacy of social protection benefits and the revenue and expenditure of social protection schemes are produced based on the data collected in SSI questionnaires.
SDG indicator 1.3.1 and its components
Indicator 1.3.1: Proportion of population covered by social protection floors/systems, by sex, distinguishing children, unemployed persons, older persons, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, newborns, work-injury victims and the poor and the vulnerable
Components of SDG indicator 1.3.1
- Total population covered by social protection systems/floors
- Share of children/households receiving social protection benefits
- Share of women giving birth receiving maternity benefits
- Share of older persons receiving old-age pensions
- Share of persons with disabilities receiving benefits
- Share of the unemployed receiving unemployment benefits
- Share of people covered by employment injury schemes
- Share of the poor covered by social protection systems
- Share of the vulnerable covered by social protection systems
SSI data compilation and coaching of national counterparts on (a)the use of the questionnaire and filling in the data or (b)data compilation through SSI questionnaires and estimation against SDG indicator 1.3.1 and other indicators, including in-depth analysis of the current situation and definition of existing social protection schemes and benefits.
In order to enhance the national capacity to generate comprehensive and reliable social protection data, the ILO’s Social Protection Department provides technical assistance and training to ILO constituents, in collaboration with ILO field offices and other departments and UN agencies.
During training, countries acquire knowledge on the common methodology, processes and rules: which data to collect; how to organize the data collection/consolidation process at the national level; how to classify data and information; and how to categorize programmes and benefits in order to ensure comparability of data and the ability to use them for multiple purposes. The participants are coached on the use of the SSI online tool and given the option to nationalize the data compilation processes for internal monitoring purposes. Establishing a good monitoring mechanism requires a shared methodology and agreed principles regarding data to be collected (how to classify and select data and so on). Without access to a minimum set of social protection data over a sustained time period, countries are not able to take stock and identify gaps to define adequate policy options for social protection.
- data compilation from all social protection agencies involved at country level and analysis and validation (intervention levels 2 (a) and 2 (b));
- country-specific guidelines on strengthening the technical capacity of the staff of national statistical offices and ministries in processing this data (intervention level 2 (b));
- assistance in monitoring and reporting on SDG indicator 1.3.1: identifying the methodology, definitions and concepts used to calculate the indicators derived from administrative records data (intervention level 2 (b));
- providing training to build the capacities of national staff for monitoring and reporting on the SDGs: identifying the methodology, definitions and concepts used to calculate indicators derived from administrative records data (intervention level 2 (b));
- incorporating data into the World Social Protection Dashboards (intervention level 2 (a) and 2 (b);
- organization of South–South and triangular knowledge-sharing events with development partners and regional and international organizations (intervention level 2 (b)).
As a result of receiving assistance and training at this level, selected countries are provided with specific guides and tools that enable them to advance in the development of a comprehensive, harmonized and coherent set of information on social protection at the national level; these countries will provide a pathway for others to follow.
The ILO supports countries by providing technical assistance in building national systems of statistics and indicators on social protection, as well as national monitoring and evaluation frameworks. These tasks require long-term assistance and full engagement of the line ministries and social security institutions. This approach will be designated to intensify development assistance at the country level in the fields of social protection statistics and indicators, including knowledge and capacity-building activities, training and direct support in establishing working groups and the development of statistical databases, data visualization dashboards, statistical yearbooks and bulletins and so on. The working methods also promote institutional coordination for the development of national statistical systems on social protection at the national level.
- assessment of the current social protection monitoring system, identification of gaps and establishment of priorities for development;
- building a national working group consisting of all the social protection data producers;
- training staff in the national agencies involved in data collection, processing, validation, harmonization and consolidation;
- design and implementation of a single database of the national social protection system, integrating data from different line ministries and social security institutions;
- assistance in standardizing the administrative records of all the agencies involved, establishing administration mechanisms that will further maintain and update the records according to the prescribed standards;
- inclusion of social protection in the national labour force survey (where it exists) or other household surveys (preparation of the social protection module for a survey questionnaire, including guidelines for the interviewers, questionnaire, training materials and so on);
- establishing a set of social protection indicators derived from administrative records, surveys, estimates and other data and developing dissemination principles (visualization, public database and so on);
- assistance in the design and establishment of a monitoring and evaluation system;
- organization of South–South and triangular events with development partners and regional and international organizations.
As a result of receiving assistance at this level, countries are expected to develop their national monitoring frameworks for SDG indicator 1.3.1 and for social protection systems in general. There should be significant improvements in the quantity and quality of data and information, including the management of national social protection statistics systems, through enhanced inter-agency coordination and technical capacity and improved processes and tools. The set of data and indicators on social protection and classifications are expected to be extended to reflect the situation of certain vulnerable populations that are normally excluded from social protection data.