World Social Protection Report 2017/19

ILO’s new report notes Chinese progress on social protection

China’s rapidly expanding pension coverage receives special attention as the nation gears up for an increasingly ageing population in the next decades.

Press release | 29 November 2017
Beijing / China (ILO News) – The International Labour Organisation launched its flagship World Social Protection Report 2017/19 on November 29. An inventory of social protection worldwide—covering the state of benefits for maternity, unemployment, old age, healthcare, etc. —the report reveals that only 29 per cent of the world population enjoy comprehensive social protection, with more than 1 out of 2 people having no protection at all. This leaves many vulnerable to poverty, inequality and social exclusion, constituting a major obstacle to economic and social development for any country.

The key messages of the report will be presented to Chinese government officials and representatives of social partners in a national high-level seminar on December 12-13 this year in Haikou, China. In the same meeting, tripartite partners will examine the prospect of China ratifying ILO’s Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No.102). The World Social Protection Report 2017/19 will also be translated to Chinese and made available for wider readership in the country.

China has made major achievements in extending coverage of social protection and building a comprehensive social protection system for one fifth of the world population. It has achieved universal legal coverage of old-age pension and health insurance. By 2016 end, 888 million people were insured by the pension insurance system, whilst over 130 million people or 95 per cent of the population are already covered by basic medical insurance.

“China is demonstrating that growth and development do not benefit from denying people a fair share of the productivity gains their societies are generating, nor are economic transformation and innovation served by leaving the poor behind,” says Nuno Cunha, ILO’s social protection specialist. “The Chinese experience is highlighted in the new World Social Protection Report as a good example that showcases how it is possible to extend pension and health care coverage to citizens over a relatively short period of time through a combination of contributory and non-contributory schemes.”

Universal social protection contributes to eradicating poverty, reducing inequality, promoting economic growth and social justice, as well as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On that note, ILO’s report presents new estimates on effective social protection coverage for a comprehensive monitoring of social protection systems, including floors, thereby providing the 2015 baseline for the SDG indicator 1.3.1.

Like all systems in the world, the social security system faces its own challenges. With an extremely rapid ageing population, the Chinese government is seeking to develop solutions that balance the financial sustainability of the system with the need to ensure adequate benefits. Geographical inequality also poses a significant problem, which could be minimized with the national pooling of social insurance funds.

For more information, please contact: Li Qingyi, Programme Officer of ILO Country office for China and Mongolia,