Social security programmes worldwide face serious challenges: including, the impact of globalization, the ageing of the population, lack of coverage, evolving labour markets, increasing migration, changing family structures, and technological innovation in information and telecommunications.
Population ageing is a challenge for many social security programmes. Photo: istockphoto
In the face of these challenges, there is a need for social security to further adapt, not least to better guarantee sustainable and more accessible social security systems. Ideally, systems should build on integrated, proactive and innovative policy responses and should foster socially inclusive and economically productive societies. Faced with these challenges and the need to adapt, the social security reform process deserves to be more fully understood.
Strategies and tools
Policy reform is often characterized by interested parties attempting to exert influence of the reform process, albeit at different stages of the process and often for different reasons. Strategies and tools to analyse and understand the location, strength, and stakes involved in these attempts to promote, alter or reverse policy reform initiatives constitute a key to better understanding and influencing reform outcomes.
Major reform processes are generally determined by governments, nevertheless, social security institutions have an important role to play, not least of which concerns the implementation of policy and managing the related operational and administrative issues. More than being mere implementing agencies, social security institutions are also important actors with their own interests, values, and ideas. Furthermore, the implementation of a major reform may not proceed in a step-by-step linear direction, as there may be need to adjust strategies in mid-stream to take into account changing circumstances and implementation difficulties. In such a complex environment, strategies to shape policy outcomes and the potential roles of policy research, analysis, communication and networking in particular are vital.
The policy reform process and outcomes can have a major effect not only on the financial sustainability, but also on the political and social legitimacy of social security programmes and their institutions. This raises some fundamental questions:
What can social security institutions do?
In a world where policy reforms and associated institutional and legislative changes are commonplace, social security institutions find themselves confronted with various challenges. Addressing these successfully requires not only an understanding of 'good practice' solutions but also of techniques to avoid the potential bottlenecks, traps, and impasses that can accompany the policy reform process. Information and examples of 'good practice' on the strategies and tools that help social security institutions better manage social security reform processes provide not only a better understanding of the nature and complexity of the challenges, but also a more expansive idea-set with which to respond appropriately. In this way, social security institutions may be better equipped to engage actively with the reform process.