Social Protection Index Brief: Social Insurance Programs in Asia and the Pacific

Date: October 2013
Type: Papers and Briefs
Series: ADB Briefs
ISBN: 978-92-9254-292-4 (print), 978-92-9254-293-1 (web)
ISSN: 2071-7202 (print), 2218-2675 (web)
Author: McKinley, Terry; Handayani, Sri Wening


This policy brief focuses on the policy implications of the dominance of social insurance.

Key points

  • Social insurance is the main form of social protection in Asia and the Pacific in terms of spending, accounting for 59% of total spending.
  • Social insurance programs include contributory pensions, health insurance, and other insurance schemes such as provident funds, unemployment insurance, and work insurance schemes.
  • Social insurance benefits mostly those employed in the civil service and well-established private companies.
  • Universal coverage for health insurance will have to involve some form of noncontributory scheme for the poor and near-poor, mostly in the informal sector.
  • The distributional impact of social insurance is currently not pro-poor, nor is it gender-equitable.
  • Most pension programs confront the main challenge of expanding their coverage and becoming more socially inclusive.