Taxation, fiscal space and resource mobilization


Responding to the social protection needs of the population requires a sufficient level of resources. Most of these resources have to be raised at the national level, ensuring sustainability, equity and solidarity in financing, and good governance. National tax systems are one important source of financing, particularly with regard to a sufficiently broad and progressive revenue base, taking into account different types of taxes. Other possible options to expand fiscal space for social protection include the reprioritization of public expenditure, earmarking revenues from natural resources, as well as international cooperation and support in the case of countries with insufficient economic and fiscal capacities.

While different strategies can be sought to raise the necessary resources for social protection, such as the re-prioritization expenditures, increases in the tax base, improvements in the collection of revenues etc., the creation of the necessary fiscal space in the government budget to finance  social protection benefits ultimately depends on the political will do commit the necessary resources. For tax-financed provisions, the tax base has to be sufficiently progressive; otherwise the objectives of the social protection system are undermined by the tax burden placed on the poor and vulnerable population groups. Similarly, contributory schemes need to take the contributory capacity of persons covered into account. The financial sustainability of the social protection system also greatly depends on the government’s ability to enforce existing tax and contribution obligations. Financial sustainability also requires that provisions are made for the system to be able to respond to shocks or crises.

Photo credit: “Bamboo” by Phil Dokas (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).


Legal Instruments

Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)

Recommendation No. 202 is the first international instrument to offer guidance to countries to close social security gaps and progressively achieve universal protection through the establishment and maintenance of comprehensive social security systems. To this aim, the Recommendation calls for (1) the implementation, as a priority, of social protection floors (SPF) as a fundamental element […]


Fiscal Space for Social Protection and the SDGs: Options to Expand Social Investments in 187 Countries (ESS Working Paper No. 48)

The argument that spending on social protection is unaffordable is becoming less common in international development forums. Finding fiscal space for critical economic and social investments is necessary for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for sustained human development of children and women, and for realizing human rights, particularly during downtimes. This paper presents eight […]

Política Fiscal para la Igualdad y los Derechos: Mapeo de debates, iniciativas y actores de la Región Andina

La política fiscal tiene un rol central en la superación de las desigualdades socio-económicas y el cumplimiento de los derechos humanos. Su potencial rol redistributivo convierte a esta política en una herramienta única para lograr un modelo de desarrollo que tenga como ejes centrales la igualdad, los derechos humanos y la sostenibilidad medioambiental. Bajo esta […]

Financing Development for Children in Africa: The state of budget transparency and accountability in the continent

This report builds on the findings of the Open Budget Survey 2015, by taking a closer look at the 31 African countries included in the survey. It seeks to promote transparency and accountability in the use of government budgets in Africa. The rationale for this report is twofold. First, Africa is witnessing a historic demographic […]

Report on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of State (A /HRC/34/57/Add.1), submitted by the Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, on his mission to the institutions of the EU

The Secretariat has the honour to transmit to the Human Rights Council the report of the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, on his visit to institutions of […]

El Financiamiento del Desarrollo en Bolivia: Cambios y Continuidades en la Relación Estado-Cooperación Internacional (2006–2013)

Este document analiza  los  cambios  en  la  relación  entre  el  estado  y  la  cooperación internacional  en  Bolivia  a  partir  de  2006.  La  hipótesis  de  inicio  sostiene  que Bolivia logró  una autonomía  económica  tal  con  la  bonanza  económica  registrada  desde  2006 que modificó  el marco de las  relaciones entre  el  estado  y la cooperación  internacional. Los […]

The Political Economy of Mineral Resource Governance and Children’s Rights in Papua New Guinea

Papua  New  Guinea  has  had  a diverse history  of  contestation  over  resource  revenues during  its past forty  years  since  independence. The  major  actors  have  been  the national and provincial level governments and politicians, international development agencies,  resources  companies  and  local  landowners  in  project  development areas. This paper explores the debates over decentralization and the distribution […]

Movilización de Recursos Domésticos, Desarrollo Social y Cambio Institucional: Descentralización y Autonomías Municipales en Bolivia

El presente documento analiza la movilización de recursos domésticos para el desarrollo social  desde  la  perspectiva  de  los  gobiernos  municipales  en  Bolivia.  Luego  de  dos décadas  de  descentralización  y seis años  de  autonomías,  las  brechas  sociales  entre municipios  siguen  siendo  profundas  y  se  explican,  en  parte,  por  la  debilidad  de  la gestión pública, falta de […]

Rationalizing Social Protection Expenditure in Ghana

This report has been prepared in the context of the Ghana Social Opportunities Project that seeks to support Ghana to rationalize its social protection expenditure. The Report analyses expenditure in terms of its sustainability, robustness, efficiency and effectiveness in preventing or reducing poverty, social exclusion and ill health. It includes an analysis of the current […]

Long-term Care of Older Persons in China

The rapid increase of the number of older persons, particularly the oldest-old – those above 80 years – increases the need for long-term care for older persons in the Asia-Pacific region. This working paper series examines the prevailing system of provision and financing of long-term care for older persons in selected countries in the Asia-Pacific […]

Publication – Compendium Social Protection Floors: Volume 3 – Governance and financing

The volumes on Social Protection Floors present best practices and experiences from countries that are useful for South-South learning, for practitioners and to provide the basis for more informed policy-making. Volume 3 describes mechanisms to build social protection floors, such as a national dialogue in Myanmar, reaching rural dwellers in South Africa, worker facilitation centres […]