Social Protection Floor Index 2020

In the face of a global catastrophe, it’s not very difficult to see the urgency for social safety nets. But even before the COVID-19 pandemic, people knew: social protection rights are human rights that should not be yielded to market forces. As early as 2012, the member states of the International Labour Organization (ILO) committed themselves to establishing, maintaining and implementing universal and rights-based basic social protection systems (Social Protection Floors). This is intended to ensure essential health care and basic income security worldwide for children, people of working age who are unable to earn a sufficient income and the elderly. The Social Protection Floor Index (SPFI), which in 2020 will be published as an interactive infographic for the first time, measures the extent to which the respective governments fulfil this promise.

The SPFI provides an indication of the minimum resources that a country would need to invest or reallocate to close existing income and/or health protection gaps, expressed as a share of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is conceptually based on the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) that calls on countries to ensure that all in need have access to essential health care and to basic income security over the life cycle. The Recommendation also states that Members should monitor progress in implementing national social protection floors. Against this background, in 2015 the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors developed the SPFI as an easily and widely accessible and understandable monitoring tool based on publicly available data that provides an indication of the current state and progress achieved for as many countries as possible.

The third edition of the SPFI compiles data for more than 160 countries over the time period from 2012 to 2015. The interactive tool allows users to compare country results for a given year (2012, 2013, or 2015) and for different definitions of what constitutes a minimum income level ($1.9 per day in 2011 PPP, $3.2 per day in 2011 PPP, or 50 per cent of median income (but not less than $1.9 per day in 2011 PPP), to monitor progress for a given country over time (keeping in mind some caveats outlined below), as well as to separately look at gaps in income security and access to essential health care. In this way, the SPFI can be a powerful advocacy tool for civil society organisations or social partners, and an entry point for more detailed studies at country level. This background note provides information on how the 2020 Index was calculated and which data were used. It is based on the discussion papers on the 2016 (Bierbaum, Oppel, Tromp, & Cichon, 2016) and 2017 (Bierbaum, Schildberg, & Cichon, 2017) editions where additional information and related literature can be found.

The Social Protection Floor Index is a composite index that takes into account gaps in access to basic income security and essential health care.