What constitutes adequate social security benefits and services?
What constitutes an adequate benefit or service? And against which benchmarks can adequate benefits and services be defined and eventually measured? The ISSA Adequacy Project enables an assessment of the degree to which social security programmes are meeting their objectives by defining, measuring and analysing a multi-variable definition of benefit adequacy.
Extending social security coverage is essential to ensure that a population's social protection needs are met. However it is equally important that the benefit provided is adequate for individual, household and society needs. But what is an adequate benefit? How can we assess whether the benefit provided – and the way in which it is delivered – is adequate? These are essential questions that need to be addressed to ensure social security programmes meet their multiple objectives, but also to ensure that resources are spent efficiently.
Traditionally, the adequacy of many benefits was assessed in monetary terms as the degree to which the value of a cash benefit was sufficient to meet prescribed income needs and maintain a standard of living. This was often measured by the level of the replacement rate provided by the benefit. But not only is this measure often difficult to assess (for example, how might in-kind benefits be assessed?), it does not reflect the fact that income replacement is just one of social security's many roles. Other roles may include alleviating poverty, helping individuals to return to work, improving indicators of health, supporting family cohesion and providing benefits that are supportive of labour market policies.
The ISSA Adequacy Project looks at defining and then measuring adequacy by taking into account such multiple aims. It features an interactive tool which provides ISSA member organizations the means to assess their own retirement, unemployment and disability benefit system adequacy and provide examples of good practice and experience to improve adequacy levels.