Social Protection

Building social protection floors and comprehensive social security systems


Social Protection Measures throughout the world: 

January 2010 to December 2019

The Social Protection Monitor presents the latest policy trends based on media announcements on social protection measures. This update covers January 2010 to December 2019.


Social protection measures by region




ALERT! Adjustment reforms:

Increasing retirement age 89
Reducing benefits 53
Increasing contribution rates 40
Reducing budgetary allocations 25
Contracting coverage 24
Modifying calculation formula 18
Privatization or introduction of individual accounts 14
Tightening eligibility criteria 14
Increasing eligibility period 12

More information on adjustment measures:

Social protection global policy trends 2010-2016


Developments by components of the social protection floor 

Social protection measures by country

Summary of trends

From January 2010 to December 2019, a total of 1826 social protection reforms measures were announced worldwide.

Most were concentrated in Northern, Southern and Western Europe (24.3 per cent), Latin America and the Caribbean (15.5 per cent) and Sub-Saharan Africa (13.7 per cent). 50.3 per cent of the measures are related to contributory systems, and 41.1 per cent to non-contributory systems.

The most frequently cited areas are old-age protection (28.1 per cent), then several components (21.0 per cent), and working-age protection (15.6 per cent).

The period shows an overall positive evolution. However, 88 countries announced a total of 431 measures of contraction during the period. Pensions were the most affected, with 30.8 per cent of all contractionary measures to increase the retirement age, 18.3 per cent to reduce benefits, and 13.8 per cent to increase the contribution rates. 

The most common social protection functions were pensions (35.4 per cent of all measures), health (18.4 per cent), several functions of social protection (15.3 per cent), and maternity/parental (9.5 per cent). The leading trend is the extension of coverage (20.5 per cent), followed by increases in benefits (14.2 per cent), and the introduction of new schemes or benefits (9.1 per cent). 

Most adjustments were parametric (84.9 per cent), while most structural reforms were expansionary, including 8 countries that have downsized or terminated their individual accounts pension system.

Regarding the impact on specific population groups, about 16.7 per cent of the measures had a gender dimension, and 18.6 per cent aimed to address specifically the needs of the poor or indigent.



ILO’s Social Protection Monitor is based on media/news published online. The Monitor tracks announcements of social protection measures, defined as any policy decision that affects the functioning of a social protection system, from minor parametric adjustments to major developments and reforms, as well as social subsidies. The Monitor is a useful source for addressing the information gap since updates to the comprehensive global social protection statistics reported in the ILO Social Security Inquiry take years to compile. Note that the Monitor is biased given that governments do not always announce, and often underreport, contraction/adjustment measures. While the Monitor provides the most comprehensive list of announced social protection measures and a glimpse at present global trends, it does not replace the thorough analysis provided by the ILO’s Social Security Inquiry and the World Social Protection Report. For a full list of measures by country, click here

Top ten expansionary measures

Extending coverage 375
Increasing benefits 260
Introducing new schemes of benefits 167
Improving access/administration 150
Increasing benefit duration 74
Increasing credit/budgetary allocation 69
Increasing package of services 28
Relaxing eligibility criteria 18
Coordination of several programmes 15
Modifying calculation formula 14

Developments by type of social protection scheme


Measures classified by social protection functions

See more:

Global Social Protection Monitor 2019

Social Protection Responses to COVID-19 (2020)

The ILO Social Security Inquiry

World Social Protection Data Dashboards

WSPR 2017-2019



  • In Bolivia, a new pension law entered was implemented, lowering the retirement age and nationalized the private pension system. (2010)
  • In Hungary, the privatization of pensions was reversed (2011)
  • In Saudi Arabia, a series of royal decrees was issued to increase the social welfare, including extending the coverage of social insurance, expanding social services, increasing the subsidy for education, and a new subsidy on housing and utility bills. (2011)
  • In Nepal, the government announced a new social protection scheme which offers guaranteed employment for up to 100 days for people living below the poverty line. (2012)
  • In Uruguay, transsexuals were included as beneficiaries of the Social Card (2012)
  • In Tunisia, the government signed a social contract after the Arab Spring (2013)
  • Djibouti and Iran announced universal health care systems (2014)
  • In Poland, the individual accounts were first downsized (2011) and then transferred back to the ZUS social insurance PAYG system (2014)
  • In China, the two pension systems for public servants and for private employees were unified. (2015)
  • In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the government announced the establishment of a Universal Health Insurance Fund to cover all diseases and to support the entire population. (2015)
  • In Brazil, the Federal Government approved an austerity package that limits public social spending for the next 20 years to the inflation rate of the previous year. In Rio de Janeiro, the State Government has also announced a set of austerity measures that comprise a decrease in pension benefits of state employees and the elimination of social benefits to the homeless and the poor. (2016)
  • In the Czech Republic, the new government ended the Individual account system (2016)
  • In Ukraine, the transition from public to a private health system was authorized. Also, the country has adopted legislation to reform the pensions system, in line with an International Monetary Fund (IMF) assistance programme. (2017)
  • In the United States, several states have approved pension reforms that will increase retirement ages, hike contributions, freezing indexation, and enforce the enrolment in a 401(k) style retirement plan for civil servants and public school teachers, among other measures. (2017)
  • In Georgia, a new public retirement savings plan based on individual retirement accounts was announced. This “Accumulated Pension System” (APS) will be administered by the Pension Agency of Georgia (PA).
  • In the United Kingdom, low-income families are losing their child benefits. Eligibility criteria will be restricted for all new benefit claims. (2018)
  • In Nicaragua, announced measures to raise pension contribution rates and divert pension benefits from medical care were cancelled after an unleashed wave of violent protests, looting and clashes with police that left at least 25 dead. (2018)
  • In Nigeria, the federal government has launched the Micro Pension Plan which extends contributory participation to the informal sector. This is indeed an exciting development for Africa's most populous country, boasting a workforce of over 80 million workers. (2019)
  • In Côte d'Ivoire, a universal health insurance program has been started in April 2019. The new compulsory national scheme aims to provide low cost access to public health facilities. (2019)
  • In Mexico, the iconic Prospera program (formerly known as Progresa and Oportunidades) has been abolished. Funding for this program has since been re-allocated to two universal schemes (including the Pensión para el Bienestar de las Personas Adultas Mayores, an universal non-contributory pension). (2019)