DESK REVIEWS | 01.04. Social protection

DESK REVIEW | 01.04. Social protection

The Single System of Social Assistance (Sistema Único de Assistência Social – SUAS) is a public system that organises and provides social assistance services in Brazil. These are organised into two main groups; the first is called Basic Social Protection, aimed at preventing social and personal risks by offering programs, projects, services and benefits to individuals and families in situations of social vulnerability, such as poverty and disability. The second is called Special Social Protection, it is aimed at families and individuals at risk and those whose rights have been violated by experiences, such as the occurrence of abandonment, mistreatment, sexual abuse, and drug use. The most popular policy of the first group is a conditional cash transfer program called ‘Bolsa Família’, which seeks to provide a minimum level of income for those who are below the poverty line. In return, these families need to ensure that their children and young people are attending school and are regularly seen by the primary health care teams  (Brazilian Ministry of Citizenship, 2019).

There are also social protection schemes in place to protect those regularly contributing to the Social Security System (Sistema de Seguridade Social) through formal work from events such as unemployment or illness. Benefits include disability allowance, sick allowance and restrain allowance (to the family of those who are arrested whilst contributing to the Social Security System) (Brazilian Ministry of Citizenship, 2019; Brazilian Ministry of Economy, 2016).

A total of 77,467,360 people subscribed to social protection schemes in September 2019, which represents approximately 38% of the Brazilian population. The aforementioned Bolsa Família programme reached 13,537,137 families during this same period (Brazilian Ministry of Citzenship, 2019).


Brazilian Ministry of Citzenship. (2019). Relatórios de Informações Sociais.

Brazilian Ministry of Economy. (2016). Seguro-Desemprego.

Few major schemes:

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) arranged in 2005, is one of the major social protection schemes in India (Wapling et al., 2021). Under the Ministry of Rural Development, the NREGA provides 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year for those adult members from rural households who are willing to do unskilled manual work (Vikaspedia, n.d.-a).

The Ayushamn Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) provides financial protection with respect to secondary and tertiary care (hospitalisations) to the socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals (National Health Portal, 2019).

Other social protection schemes are summarized in PART 9. There are several central government and state level social security schemes targeting various groups that are not listed.


National Health Portal. (2019). Ayushman Bharat Yojana. Government of India. Available from:

Vikaspedia. (n.d.-a). Overview of MGNREGA. Government of India. Available from:

Wapling, L., Schjoedt, R., Sibum, D. (2021). Social Protection and Disability in India: Working Paper. Development Pathways Limited. Available from:

For the past twenty years Indonesia has been working towards social assistance programmes whose endeavours were extended towards that of a national security system through legal implementation in 2004. From there, it took ten years until the implementation of the national health insurance system in 2014. In 2015, a social insurance system for employees was established (TNP2K, 2018, p.i). In the following a brief overview of key social protection schemes will be provided.

One of the earliest social protection schemes developed is ‘Raskin/Rastra’, a rice assistance programme launched during the economic crisis (1998). Since 2017, rastra no longer just provides in-kind rice and eggs, but provides electronic food vouchers (Bantuan Pangan Non Tunai (BPNT)) to the bank accounts of poor families (TNP2K, 2018, p.71).

Another programme, Program Keluarga Harapan (PKH), supports economically vulnerable families with pregnant mothers and children since 2007 through conditional cash transfers. In 2017, the ‘tax-financed social assistance for [older people] […] (Asistensi Social Lanjut Usia (ASLUT)) and the disability scheme’ (Asistensi Sosial Penyandang Disabilitas Berat (ASPDB)) became incorporated into the PKH (TNP2K, 2018, p.73). The programmes provide cash transfers. ASLUT specifically support ‘poor, abandoned and bed-ridden [older] people (from the age of 60 and above)’, while APSDB supports ‘people with severe disability’ (TNP2K, 2018, p.77).

The Government of Indonesia further runs Program Indonesia Pintar (PIP), which financially supports poor students as well as Program Keejahteraan Sosial Anak (PKSA), which aims to support children in difficult circumstances (displaced or abandoned, living with disabilities, juvenile delinquents, children living on the streets) with access to education, health care, and social rehabilitation (TNP2K, 2018, pp.75,78).

There is only a small group of the population, namely, civil servants, who have had access to old age pensions since 1969. Employees in the military, police, and Ministry of Defence are covered through PT Asabri. Employees of all other government institutions and of state-owned companies receive coverage through PT Taspen. Civil servants can access pensions, survivors’ benefits and life endowment insurance (Tunjangan Hari Tua (THT)) through their respective schemes. There is some variation in the amount of pension received; however, most receive approximately ‘70 to 75 per cent of their last monthly earnings’. Civil servants further receive a rice allowance, which continues following retirement (TNP2K, 2018, p.81).

In an effort to widen and develop protection for old age, disability, and unemployment, the Social Security Agency for Employment (Jaminan Ketenagakerjaan (BPJS)) developed four schemes:

  • savings for old age, including disability benefit (JHT),
  • ‘survivors’ benefit (JKM),
  • work injury compensation (JKK) and
  • old age pension (JP).

Members of the JHT programme are obliged to withdraw their full contributions once they reach retirement age or can withdraw partial funds before reaching retirement age, if they contributed for more than ten years. Where members experience job loss due to permanent disability, they are entitled for a life-long monthly benefit (depending on their contributions). In 2015, only 249 people received support due to disability-related job loss (TNP2K, 2018, p.79).

Members of the JT programme can receive a monthly pension once they reached retirement age after contributing to the scheme for at least 15 years. Due to the recent establishment of the programme, it is estimated that members are likely to receive reasonable pensions only after 2040 and the number of people benefitting from the programme is small due to low figures of enrolment (TNP2K, 2018, p.79).

The four schemes are accessible to formal sector employees (pekerja penerima upa (PPU)) and informal or self-employed workers (bukan penerima upa (BPU)) (TNP2K, 2018, p.80)

While formal sectors employees have to be enrolled in all programmes, non-wage recipient workers cannot participate in the older people pension programme (JP). In order for non-wage recipient workers to participate the old age saving and disability programme (JHT), they also have to enrol in the ‘survivors’ benefits and work injury compensation scheme (JKM and JKK). The Social Security Agency for employment developed special rates for informal or self-employed workers earning at least IDR 1,000,000 to increase the number of memberships (TNP2K, 2018, p.80). Further, enrolment in JKK and JKM based on government subsidies was proposed for the for the ‘poor and sick’ (TNP2K, 2018, p.80).

Finally, since 2014, Indonesia has a national health insurance programme (Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional (JKN)). This programme brings together all previously separated health insurance schemes under the umbrella of the Social Security Agency for Health (BPJS Kesehatan) (TNP2K, 2018, p.83).

Besides these national schemes, there have also been reports of regional schemes. They include grants for vulnerable children and pension schemes (TNP2K, 2018, p.91):

  • The provincial government of Papua started providing financial support (IDR 200,000 per month) for the indigenous children of Papua aged four or younger (Bangun Generasi dan Keluarga Papua Sejahtera (BANGGA Papua)) (TNP2K, 2018, p.91).
  • In the Aceh province, all school-aged children have access to Sabang education grants (IDR 2,000,000) to support education-related expenses (Bantuan Pendidikan Kota Sabang)) (TNP2K, 2018, p.91).
  • In the Aceh Jaya district members of the community aged 70 or older received IDR 200,000 per month since 2014 (Program ASLURETI). A similar grant was recently introduced in DKI Jakarta (Kartu Lansia Jakarta). This grant supports 14,520 people aged 60 or older with a monthly stipend of IDR 600,000 (Kidd et al., 2018, p.4; TNP2K, 2018, p.91).

Indonesia has several long-standing partnerships with development partners and international donors, working towards developing and improving social protection schemes in the country. Among these partners are WHO, ILO, the World Bank, GIZ, AUSAID, USAID, IDB, ADB, the Global Fund, and UNICEF (Mahendradhata et al., 2017, pp.26-27). These development partners operate in many different sectors. The list below provides an overview of key social protection schemes developed in partnership with international donors.

The World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO has been involved in the development of social protection schemes in Indonesia for many years. A report from 2018 (Kaasch et al., 2018, p.4), reports that the WHO currently focuses on communicable and non-communicable diseases, the promotion of health across the life course, as well as supporting development of the health system, surveillance, and emergency response. The organisation specifically supports the establishment of UHC through ‘building the capacity of middle management officials in the government, facilitating the monitoring-evaluation and assessment of UHC implementation at different levels, supporting National Health Accounts training and institutionalization and supporting the development of clinical governance and guidelines for improving the quality of the health system’.

The International Labour Organization (ILO)

From 2012 to 2017 ILO activities focused on the “Better Work Indonesia” programme, which focuses on the improvement of ‘working conditions and productivity in targeted employment-intensive sectors’. Furthermore, the organisation was involved in the “Decent Work for Food Security and Sustainable Rural Development” project, which focused on improved working conditions, social protection and the creation of jobs (2014-2016). In addition, the ILO worked on the “Single Window Service” project (Pelayanan Satu Atap), which aimed to support domestic workers, children and widows, and contributed to proposals for the modification of social security programmes (Kaasch et al., 2018, p.5).

The World Bank

The social safety net for the poor working in the informal sector was established in the 1990s as a condition of the structural adjustment programme the World Bank provided. In addition, the World Bank has been working in collaboration with the WHO and UNICEF to improve health and social security in the country (Kaasch et al., 2018, pp.5-6).

Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

The GIZ supports Indonesia in extending statutory health cover to population groups that do not yet receive coverage and in developing financial sustainability of the scheme. The organisation also offers advice to the Ministry of Social Affairs on ‘professionalising and expanding the national social assistance programme’ for vulnerable families as well as providing support in rolling out ‘organisational reform, piloting electronic cash transfers and introducing e-learning for social workers’. The inclusion of people with disability and the re-integration of people with occupational injuries into the workforce are other areas of GIZ activity (GIZ, 2017).

The Government of Australia

Australia closely works with the Indonesian government on the ‘National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction’ (Australian Embassy Indonesia, n.d.; TNP2K, 2018b). The group works on the development and integration of programmes to reduce poverty across ministries and institutions, oversees their implementation, offers technical advice on the implementation of new schemes, and maintains the Unified Database (UDB) (TNP2K, 2018, p.71). The country further provides support to civil society organisations working with marginalised groups on aspects of health, education, and poverty reduction (Australian Embassy Indonesia, n.d.).

The PKH, a programme including conditional cash transfers to poor families as well as social assistance for older people and people with disabilities was reported to have supported ‘150,000 older people and 50,000 people with disabilities’ with IDR 2,000,000,000 per annum (TNP2K, 2018, p.73). Among these, ASLUT supported about 30,000 people aged 60 and over with IDR 200,000 per month, while ASPDB supported 22,500 people with severe disabilities with IDR 300,000 per month in 2016. In 2017, the two programmes reached 150,000 and 50,000 people, respectively (TNP2K, 2018, p.77). While this reflects considerable improvement, Kidd and colleagues remark (2018, p.1) that around 85 per cent of older people in Indonesia remain without income security.

Beneficiaries of the Program Keularga Harapan (conditional cash transfer) increased from 3.5 million to 10 million household between 2017 and 2018. In 2018, households received an annual benefit of IDR 1,890,000. An additional top-up can be received if the family support older people or family members with disability. The programme will be revised in 2019 and base funding on the number of children per household (TNP2K, 2018, p.73).

The food programmes (Rastra/BPNT) supported 15.6 million officially registered beneficiaries in 2018 and amounted to 0.18 per cent of GDP. However, in practice approximately 28.6 million household are likely to have benefitted due to allocation of resources across communities. Despite this considerable coverage, it is estimated that about 45 per cent of the poorest households (15.5 million households) were not included in the scheme in 2017 (TNP2K, 2018, pp.71-72).

In 2016 the civil service pensions PT Taspen and PT Asabri benefited 2.2 million and 48,407 members, respectively. By 2017, 4.2 million active civil servants in PT Taspen supported 2.5 million pensioners (TNP2K, 2018, p.82). Despite coverage of certain groups, it is estimated that an estimated 13 per cent of older people in Indonesia receive a pension, leaving 87 per cent without access to social protection.

Furthermore, the old age pension (JP), due to its recent establishment (2014) will only be able to support pensioners minimally from about 2033. While this can provide protection for future older generations it leaves current older people unprotected. In recognition of the vulnerability of its older population, Indonesia provides health care to approximately 85 per cent of this group (TNP2K, 2018, pp.86-90).

The report also found high vulnerability of people with disabilities of working age. It is estimated that over 90 per cent of this group does not have access to direct financial support. Despite this high number of people without financial support, some progress has been made. In 2017, 112,490 people with disability or work injuries received benefits through the Social Security Agency for Employment and 47,100 people with disabilities received an additional, yet small benefit through the PKH (TNP2K, 2018, p.88).


Australian Embassy Indonesia. (n.d.). Development partnership with Indonesia. Retrieved May 13, 2019, from

GIZ. (2017). Social Protection (SPP).

Kaasch, A., Sumarto, M., & Wilmsen, B. (2018). Indonesian social policy development in a context of global social governance UNRISD (No. 2018–6; UNRISD Working Paper).

Kidd, S., Gelders, B., Rahayu, S.K., Larasati, D., Huda, K. & Siyaranamual, M. (2018) Implementing Social Protection for the Elderly in Indonesia, Jakarta Pusat: Sekretariat Tim Nasional Percepatan Penanggulangan Kemiskinan.

Mahendradhata, Y., Trisnantoro, L., Listyadewi, S., Soewondo, P., MArthias, T., Harimurti, P., & Prawira, J. (2017). The Republic of Indonesia Health System Review (Vol. 7, Issue 1).

Tim Nasional Percepatan Penanggulangan Kemiskinan (TNP2K). (2018) The Future of the social protection system in Indonesia, Jakarta Pusat: Office of the Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia.

TNP2K. (2018b). The future of the social protection system in indonesia: social protection for all (pp. 1–15). SP Exe Summary ENG-web.pdf

Several countries have adopted social protection strategies to reduce poverty levels and inequalities. In Kenya, social protection has been implemented using non-contributory and contributory schemes in the areas of social assistance (cash transfer and school-feeding programmes), social security and health insurance.

Cash transfer programmes

(National Gender and Equality Commission, 2014) – to support access to health care, food, school retention for children, social support networks, self-esteem and dignity. In 2016, the total coverage was 519,878 households (table 1), accounting for only 3.8% of the total expenditure among the bottom 20% of the population (cash transfer for orphans and vulnerable children (CT-OVC), the older persons cash transfer (OPCT), cash transfer for persons with severe disability (CT-PwSD); and Hunger Safety Net Program (HSNP) for chronically poor people (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 2018). The OP-CT program, which received the highest allocation (3 billion) among the above listed cash transfer programmes during the 2018/19 financial year only covered about 3% of all households in Kenya in 2015/16 (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 2018). Other programs such as the CT-OVC, HSNP and CT-PwSD received Sh7.95 billion, Sh4.5 billion and Sh1.2 billion, respectively (Business Daily, 2018). This shows an increase in budgetary allocation for all direct cash transfer programmes from 8 billion shillings in 2013 to over 30 billion shillings in 2017 (The World Bank, 2019). Together, all four direct transfer programs account for close to 1.5% of household expenditure across the entire population (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 2018). In April 2020, the government allocated 33 billion Kenyan shillings during the COVID-19 pandemic to enable older persons and the vulnerable population to buy food. This funding has increased by 7 billion since end of 2019 (Okoth, 2020).

Table 1: Summary of the four main cash transfer programs in Kenya

Programme Year Launched Implementing Agency Transfer value (per month in KSHS) Target Counties


Coverage (2015) Coverage (2019)
Households Households (coverage)
Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children 2005 Department of Children’s Services 2550 per household 47 255,643 353,000 (29%)
Older Persons Cash Transfer targeting those aged 65 and above 2006 Department of Gender and Social Development 2000 47 162,695 833,129 (78%)
Persons with Severe Disabilities Cash Transfer 2011 Department of Gender and Social Development 2000 47 25,471 47,000 (3%)
Hunger Safety Net Programme targeting residents of Wajir, Turkana, Mandera and Marsabit counties with food insecurity. 2007 HSNP Secretariat 2000 4 84,340 374, 000

Source: (Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), 2019; Ministry of Labour and East African Affairs (MLEAA), 2016)

Social protection coverage in Kenya is relatively low compared to other African countries such as Uganda and South Africa. This is due to inadequate budget allocation that has resulted in low coverage and impact on poverty reduction. It is therefore essential to expand these programmes in order to reduce the poverty head count rate (Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), 2019). It is however important to note that the current trend on increasing budget allocation to social protection schemes is promising and would improve the economy of the country if synergistic investment measures could be put in place to tackle gaps in other sectors. The government of Kenya has either solely come up with and funded these programs or partnered with other organizations at national and international levels.

Another safety net programme in Kenya is food distribution including school feeding and emergency relief food programmes. Relief food is mainly distributed in arid and semi-arid areas during drought and famine seasons while school feeding programmes are intended to keep children in school during food shortages (Republic of Kenya, 2011). Below are specific examples of these programmes (HGSM, 2019):

  • The Njaa Marufuku Kenya Programme (NMKP) (Swahili word translated as eradicate hunger) led by the Ministry of Agriculture targets regions that have high to medium potential to grow food and reaches over 44, 000 children in 66 schools. The programme also provides fertilizers to local small holder farms and trains and farmers to enable them to produce excess and sell to schools. NMKP runs for a maximum of three years after which the communities manage the programme or seek the support of Home Grown School Meals Programme (HGSM).
  • The Home Grown School Meals Programme (HGSM) is led by the Ministry of Education and feeds 600, 000 school children in 1800 schools located in 66 semi-arid districts with midday meal (cereals, pulses, oil and salt). The government transfers funds to this programme so that food is purchased locally.
  • The kazi kwa vijana (jobs for youth) safety net programme established in 2008 to absorb young people into the job market faced management and logistical shortcomings (Republic of Kenya, 2011) and was cancelled by the World Bank.
National Social Security Fund (NSSF)

(National Social Security Fund, 2019) – provides social security protection in the form of lump sum payments upon retirement for formal and informal workers (members and their dependents). At the end of 2016/17, the total number of members was 6.8 million (Mugo et al., 2018) out of a total of approximately 24 million eligible people (falling under the category of early to mature working age i.e. (15 to 64 years)). To become a member, individuals (regardless of the cadre, permanent or casual employees, employed or self-employed etc) and businesses are required to register with NSSF and pay contributions before 15th of each month to avoid attracting interests on a monthly basis.

National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF)

– This is the main health insurer in Kenya covering 19% of the population, with other private insurers covering 1% of the population (Kazungu & Barasa, 2017). Free inpatient health care services are available to formal and informal sector employees remitting monthly contributions to NHIF, but outpatient services are only available to civil servants. Contribution for formal sector employees is mandatory while for informal sector is voluntary. It is therefore possible that the 11% of the population covered within this scheme is comprised of mainly formal sector employees. The informal sector employees are not able to afford the monthly contributions (USD 5) because their income is unpredictable and they are not organized into sizeable groups which makes it difficult to register and collect contributions effectively (Barasa, et al., 2018).


The social protection programmes outlined above face five challenges, which need to be addressed to improve the efficiency of the interventions. These include: (i) lack of effective coordination of the programmes due to implementation by different ministries and in different departments. This complex organizational structure reduces the efficiency of service delivery and strain on the inadequate administrative resources (Oxford policy Management, 2019); (ii) lack of universalism across programmes leading to enrolment of ineligible people and exclusion of eligible people; (iii) inadequate structures to facilitate timely exit, graduation and sustainability mechanisms. For instance, the structures necessary for removing those who no longer qualify for support e.g., social protection assistance are inadequate; (iv) lack of funding to finance social protection programmes and (v) lack of comprehensive legislation on social protection. However, there is a high degree of policy interest in social protection interventions, evidenced by an increase in funding for cash transfers to support the vulnerable populations in Kenya. The continued interest can bridge the gap between social protection research, programming and policy (PASGR and AIHD, 2017). The UHC pilot that was launched in 2018 will also increase health care access to all populations and protect vulnerable populations from financial consequences of accessing and receiving health care.

The government also introduced the National Identify Management System (NIMS) to register all Kenyans (through a unique identifier locally referred to as “Huduma Namba” (huduma means “service” in Kiswahili)). This was done by collating biometric details, identity documents and physical addresses. The purpose of the unique number was to improve service delivery to all citizens including health care without necessarily using the actual health insurance cards since the information is integrated within the NHIS. The uptake of registration was slow by Kenyans due to concerns over privacy and data security or protest to the government’s threats such as being locked out of government services or imprisonment of one to five years or fine of between $10,000 and $50,000, for transacting without the Huduma Number (Mungai, 2019; Nyabola, 2019).


Barasa, E., Rogo, K., Mwaura, N., & Chuma, J. (2018). Kenya National Hospital Insurance Fund Reforms: Implications and Lessons for Universal Health Coverage. Health Systems & Reform, 4(4), 346–361.

Business Daily. (2018). World Bank asks Kenya to expand cash transfer plan for poor. 18 July.

HGSM. (2019). The Home Grown School Meals programme (HGSM) in Kenya. World Food Programme, Novermber 2018.

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank. (2018). Fiscal Incidence Analysis for Kenya: Using the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey 2015/16. Washington, DC.

Kazungu, J. S., & Barasa, E. W. (2017). Examining levels, distribution and correlates of health insurance coverage in Kenya. Tropical Medicine & International Health, 22(9), 1175–1185.

Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA). (2019). Social Protection Budget Brief (No. 67/2018-2019). Nairobi, Kenya.

Ministry of Labour and East African Affairs (MLEAA). (2016). Inua Jamii – Towards a more effective National Safety Net for Kenya Progress Report.

Mugo, P., Onsomu, E., Munga, B., Nafula, N., Mbithi, J., & Owino, E. (2018). An Assessment of Healthcare Delivery in Kenya under the Devolved System (No. Special Paper No. 19). Nairobi, Kenya.

Mungai, C. (2019). Kenya’s Huduma: Data commodification and government tyranny.

National Gender and Equality Commission. (2014). Participation of vulnerable populations in their own programmes.The cash transfers in Kenya.

National Social Security Fund. (2019). National Social Security Fund website.

Nyabola, N. (2019). If you are a Kenyan citizen, your private data is not safe.

Okoth, J. (2020, April). Cash Transfers to Vulnerable Kenyans. The Kenyan Mall STreet. Nairobi, Kenya.

Oxford Policy Management. (2019). Social protection in Kenya: improving cash transfer programmes.

PASGR and AIHD. (2017). Strengthening Kenya’s social protection agenda through research, prgramming and policy (Vol. 2).

Republic of Kenya. (2011). Kenya National Social Protection Policy. Nairobi, Kenya.

The World Bank. (2019). In Kenya, Uplifting the Poor and Vulnerable Through a Harmonized National Safety Net System.

Brief Overview of social protection schemes implemented by the government

As in most countries in Latin America, social policies, also referred to as social protection or social assistance programmes in Mexico, have been designed as mechanisms to address poverty and among these, non-contributory pensions, and conditional cash transfers (CCT) represent the largest programs now in place. Some programs have aimed at universalisation combining a mix of contributory benefits with cash transfers for poor families, targeting older people and children but also having an indirect impact on reducing gender, race, and urban/rural gaps (Fleury, 2017).

In Mexico, the main CCT program is called Prospera (formerly known as Progresa). The programme was created in 1997 to support human development. It is based on target groups, such as young children, women, older adults, and is means-tested by poverty and size of locality. Another large social protection initiative was the establishment of a fully publicly financed health insurance in 2004, the Seguro Popular. The programme was created as an effort to increase health insurance coverage among those not covered by social security institutions (see details in Part 2). The third largest social protection scheme currently in place is the Universal Pension, introduced in 2014. The Universal Pension programme is an age-based non-contributory pension for older adults, who do not receive a contributory pension from a social security institution. In 2019, reforms to the program established a bi-monthly payment of $2,500 Mexican pesos, equivalent to $130 USD, for individuals 65 years and older in rural areas and those 68 years old in urban areas. Currently, older adults in Mexico rely mostly on state or federal non-contributory pension benefits, which are significantly smaller than social security benefits (Aguila et al., 2011).

On the other hand, social security, and comprehensive benefits such as maternity leave, day-care centres for pre-school aged children, disability and old age pensions and health care are funded through a three-party mechanism where the formal employee, employer, and the government contribute. These are only available for those employed in the formal market. This includes private sector workers and the self-employed. Similarly, three-party mechanisms are in place for federal and state level public servants as well as state companies such as the oil company PEMEX (Angel et al., 2017). It is estimated that only one-half of those employed, work in the formal sector, leaving a large proportion of the population, particularly older adults, unprotected and not receiving any social security benefits (Bravo et al., 2015).

While the implementation of these schemes in Latin America has in a way improved social inclusion and contributed to poverty reduction, experts have noted how universal coverage in fragmented systems does not equal a universal welfare state that entitles rights. They note that it is distinct from rights-based policies and may preserve stratification, paternalism, discretionary selections, and insecurity (Fleury, 2017).

Brief overview of social protection schemes[1] implemented by development partners or international donors.

Currently there are no schemes or programs implemented by international development partners, but there has been active participation by some organisations in fundamental public social protection and development programmes through technical and financial advice as well as different lending mechanisms. For example, the World Bank has provided important support for different social protection programs including the original Education and the Health and Nutrition program PROGRESA, now called PROSPERA. The World Bank supports a total of 18 active projects in Mexico (Banco Mundial, 2019).

[1] NB: Social protection schemes can include: direct welfare programmes (conditional and unconditional cash transfers, disability grants, old-age grants, dependency grants, school feeding programmes, food aid, state pensions), which may or may not focus on targeting vulnerable groups.


Aguila, E., Diaz, C., Fu, M. M., Kapteyn, A., & Pierson, A. (2011). Living Longer in Mexico.

Angel, J., Vega, W., López-Ortega, M. (2017). Aging in Mexico: Population Trends and Emerging Issues, The Gerontologist, Volume 57, (2), 153–162,

Banco Mundial. (2019). México: proyectos.

Bravo J. Lai N. M. S. Donehower G. , & Mejia-Guevara I. (2015). Ageing and retirement security: United States of America and Mexico. In W. E.Vega K. S.Markides J. L.Angel, & F. M.Torres Gil (Eds.), Challenges of Latino aging in the Americas (pp. 77–89). New York, NY: Springer Science.

Fleury, S. (2017). O Estado de Bem-estar Social na América Latina : reforma , inovação e fadiga. Cadernos de Saúde Pública, 33(7).