Inclusive societies and development

A new OECD Tool: the Social Protection System Review (SPSR)






The Social Protection System Review (SPSR) aims to inform developing countries’ efforts to extend and reform their social protection systems. It takes a holistic view of a country’s social protection system, examining its three pillars – social assistance, social insurance and labour market programmes – within the country’s broader policy context. As such, the reviews examine questions of policy coherence within the social protection sector, as well as with other relevant policy areas.

The SPSR takes a forward-looking approach, providing a diagnostic of the current state of the social protection system and highlighting future challenges and options for addressing them. This includes an analysis of the country’s demographics, poverty dynamics, labour market trends and revenue base in so far as these have implications for the social protection system. The analysis also examines how social protection expenditure is currently financed and its sustainability over the long term.

The SPSR places a strong emphasis on assessing the extent to which a social protection system provides effective and equitable coverage for the poor and those who are vulnerable to poverty. It analyses whether the system has contributed to reducing poverty, vulnerability and inequality as well as examining the extent to which it has fostered more inclusive growth, defined as an improvement of living standards and the sharing of the benefits of increased prosperity more evenly across social groups. The analysis includes non-monetary dimensions that matter for well-being, such as employment prospects, health outcomes, educational opportunities or vulnerability to adverse environmental factors.

Specifically, the SPSRs examine five dimensions of a country’s social protection system:

  1. Need: Forward-looking analysis of risks and vulnerabilities across the life-cycle to determine the need for social protection
  2. Coverage: Identification of existing social protection schemes and gaps in coverage
  3. Effectiveness: Assessment of the adequacy, equity and efficiency of social protection provision
  4. Sustainability: Assessment of fiscal policy and the financing of social protection
  5. Coherence: Assessment of the institutions for social protection and their alignment with other policies.

Taken together, these five dimensions provide a diagnostic of the main challenges for a country’s social protection system and identify potential avenues for its extension and reform over the long term. While the above provides an overall analytical approach, the individual SPSRs are carefully tailored to reflect national priorities in close consultation with government ministries. The analysis will also vary according to the level of development of the social protection system and the availability of data.  Where possible, the analysis is conducted jointly with government officials and/ or local researchers to build capacity for evidence-based policy-making. The research process is very participatory and includes a number of workshops to jointly define research priorities, interpret preliminary findings, and formulate policy implications.


Social Protection System Review for Cambodia

In 2017, the Royal Government of Cambodia published a new Social Protection Policy Framework (SPPF), providing an ambitious vision for a social protection system in which a comprehensive set of policies and institutions operate in sync with each other to sustainably reduce poverty and vulnerability. The Social Protection System Review of Cambodia prompts and answers a series of questions that are crucial for the implementation of the framework : How will emerging trends affect the needs for social protection, now and into the future? To what extent are Cambodia’s social protection instruments able – or likely – to address current and future livelihood challenges? How does fiscal policy affect social protection objectives? This review provides a contribution to the ongoing policy dialogue on social protection, sustainable growth and poverty reduction. It includes four chapters. Chapter 1 is a forward-looking assessment of Cambodia’s social protection needs. Chapter 2 maps the social protection sector and examines its adequacy. An investigation of the distributive impact of social protection and tax policy is undertaken in Chapter 3. The last chapter concludes with recommendations for policy strategies that could support the establishment of an inclusive social protection system in Cambodia, as envisaged by the SPPF.

Back to the Social Protection Systems Programme page


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