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Shaping the future of social protection: access, financing and solidarity

March 2006|
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Shaping the future of social protection: access, financing and solidarity

Autor institucional: NU. CEPAL Physical Description: 180 páginas. Editorial: ECLAC Date: March 2006 ECLAC symbol: LC/G.2294(SES.31/3)


Since the early 1990s, ECLAC has been advocating a new development paradigm that is better suited to a globalized world of open economies. While retaining the Commission's longstanding focus on seeking out positive synergies between economic growth and social equity as part of a productive modernization process, this paradigm also underscores the importance of enhancing competitiveness, preserving macroeconomic balances and strengthening a participatory and inclusive democratic political system. The idea at the core of this proposal is that the Latin American and Caribbean economies will have to transform their production structures, as well as embarking upon an intensive process of human capital formation, in order to move their development process forward. From a social perspective, ECLAC has placed special emphasis on promoting greater equality of opportunities through education and the benefits it brings to poor families, addressing and reversing the exclusionary dynamics of structurally heterogeneous labour markets, redistributing assets through social spending and promoting the full exercise of citizenship, with the ultimate aim being to strengthen democracy while laying the political foundations for the consolidation of more inclusive societies. ECLAC now proposes to take this line of thought a step further by focusing on social protection. Today, the issue of social protection has reached a historic turning point at which the region is called upon to take a different approach in coping with the new global order and its implications for national societies. The main reason why solidaritybased social protection mechanisms need to be rethought is that the labour market has not demonstrated a capacity for greater inclusiveness either through the creation of decent job opportunities or in terms of the level of social protection contributions. It is important, certainly, to promote policies to create more and better jobs, but in the short and medium terms, employment cannot be expected to serve as the sole mechanism for protecting the bulk of the population from the risks associated with a possible loss of income, health problems and ageing. The structural changes reflected in the current situation call for a fresh approach to social protection within a framework of integral solidarity that combines contributory and noncontributory mechanisms. A new social covenant must therefore be formed in which social rights are seen as the normative horizon and existing inequalities and budgetary restrictions are the limiting factors to be addressed. In other words, the ethical imperatives that underpin a social rightsbased covenant must be reconciled with existing financial constraints. Emphasis must also be placed on efficient resource use with a view to expanding the coverage and raising the quality of services, especially for the lowest-income sectors of the population. The proposals put forward in this document are designed to build bridges between social rights and policy guidelines aimed at making them more enforceable through improved access, better financing and greater solidarity. To this end, the study devotes particular attention to some of the main issues relating to social protection, such as the reform and design of health and pension systems, taking into consideration both labour market dynamics and the countries' fiscal capacities. Programmes aimed at providing support to society's poorest groups are also examined. The analyses offered here are thus intended to delineate some of the issues that should be encompassed by a new social covenant founded upon the right to social protection. José Luis Machinea, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)