The research focused on four key policy areas of social protection / welfare / public policy, namely: employment and the labour market; income substitution or cash transfer programmes; education; and health. The main areas of enquiry in the report are:
- the nature of social policies and programmes
- links between social, economic and environmental policies
- the politics and political economy of policy choice
- the implementation and institutionalization of social policies
The report shows that countries in MENA have a combination of residual and corporatist governance models in relation to social policy. There are two over-arching tendencies both of which fall short of universal coverage or adequate benefit levels: (1) employment based social security which means that formally employed private sector workers and public sector workers are the most likely to receive protection, primarily in terms of end of service indemnity pay, health and education but with some countries not having old age pension schemes; (2) social safety nets and in-kind assistance, often provided by community or family based social networks, to vulnerable groups such as orphans or elderly people. This has been the system in practice for several decades now since independence in the 1940s and shows no sign of dramatic reform. With some minor exceptions of countries with long socialist or Trade Union traditions such as Egypt and Tunisia, most countries are now adopting a strong neo-liberal stance whereby the private sector is the main engine of social and economic prosperity, though often it is the political establishment that are the main owners of capital such as in telecommunications and industry. The current donor-sponsored reform of food and fuel subsidies which is taking place in the countries examined in this report is occurring as part of these trends.
At the time of contribution, Rana Jawad
was Senior Lecturer at the University of Bath (UK), Nora Aboushady
was Assistant Professor of Economics at Cairo University (Egypt), Hicham Ait Mansour
was Assistant Professor at Mohamed V University (Egypt), Adam Coutts
was Research Associate at the University of Cambridge (UK), Nidhal Bencheikh
was economist and researcher at the Center for Research and Social Studies (Tunisia), and Sigrid Lupieri
was a doctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge (UK).