The term BRICS refers to the countries of Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa, which together count for over 40 per cent of the world’s population and 20 per cent of global GDP.
In recent years, the BRICS countries have gained an increasing international prominence, not only for their rapid economic growth and corresponding rise in political status, but also for their substantial commitment to social protection and the remarkable extension of social security coverage.
In view of these significant trends, the International Social Security Association has launched a project to monitor social security developments in the BRICS countries, with special emphasis on the extension of coverage.
Social security developments in the BRICS countries
As new drivers of global economic growth, the BRICS countries have received increasing attention as major geopolitical players. It has been observed that while developed countries used to dominate social security expansion, the past two decades have witnessed major developments and innovations in emerging economies, particularly in the BRICS countries.
Among such examples are the Programa Bolsa Familia , a conditional cash-transfer programme implemented in Brazil ; the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and RSBY health insurance scheme for the informal sector in India ; and a rights-based approach to social security in South Africa.
China has made important breakthroughs in extension of social security coverage. For example, the coverage rate for health insurance rose from 318 million people (24 per cent of the population) in 2005 to 1.26 billion people (94 per cent of the population) in 2010, an average monthly increase of nearly 16 million people in the last five years.
The Russian Federation , which has long been characterized by universal social security coverage, is tackling the challenges in improving adequacy and sustainability of social security schemes, preventing the shrinking of coverage and enhancing social protection for migrants and informal sector workers.