ADB and Social Protection
Developing and expanding social protection for the poor benefits all of society by fostering inclusive economic growth, reducing inequality, and improving security and political stability. Well-designed and cost-effective social protection programs also boost human capital, and thus, regional competitiveness in a globalized world. Without social protection, vulnerable families can suffer lost educational opportunities, reduced health care, and lack of employment – damage that can spill over to future generations.
Social protection from crises
Social protection systems not only protect people during times of economic crisis, but represent an investment in future growth. The global economic and financial crisis of 2008 exposed the magnitude of human and development costs associated with inadequate social protection policies and programs.
During the financial crisis, ADB provided assistance to many developing countries. Bangladesh received $645 million to help expand social safety net programs to cover millions who were hurt by the crisis such as households dependent on remittances, laid off factory workers, women forced into low-paying and insecure jobs, and young people joining the labor market at a time of shrinking job opportunities.
In 2009, ADB approved loans for social protection measures in Mongolia, the Philippines, the Peoples' Republic of China and Viet Nam worth more than $1.1 billion. Between 1996 and 2008, ADB provided 20 full social protection loans and 90 loans with social protection components, plus technical assistance projects totaling $66.43 million.
The Social Protection Operational Plan (SPOP) 2014–2020 provides strategic directions for ADB's support to its developing members to strengthen social protection systems. It proposes five priority areas for action between 2014 and 2020:
- continued development of ADB-financed social protection projects
- active identification of opportunities to integrate social protection into projects, particularly in the education, finance, health, and public management sectors
- support to capacity building and policy, and knowledge sharing
- cultivation of partnerships and South–South cooperation
- monitoring and reporting on social protection programs and trends in Asia and the Pacific
ADB’s Social Protection Strategy spells out the scope of ADB's commitment to develop priority interventions in supporting social assistance and welfare service programs. The policies and programs of ADB’s Social Protection Strategy aim to help people in the region break the cycle of poverty, enhance growth through investment in human capital, increase productivity, and reduce their vulnerability to risk. Three major elements comprise ADB’s social protection strategy:
- Labor market policies and programs designed to promote employment, the efficient operation of labor markets, and worker protection.
- Social insurance programs to cushion the risks associated with unemployment, catastrophic out-of-pocket health costs, disability, work injury, and the growing ranks of the elderly.
- Social assistance and welfare service programs for the most vulnerable with no means of support, including single mothers, the homeless, or physically or mentally challenged people.