WIDER Annual Lecture 23
Informality – addressing the Achilles Heel of social protection in Latin America

The 2019 WIDER Annual Lecture was given by Santiago Levy at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, where he discussed the challenges of social protection in economies with large informal sectors, such as in Latin America. 

Photo by Dominic Chavez/World BankSocial protection systems are an essential ingredient for socially inclusive growth, the central objective of policy makers in most developing countries. To contribute to this objective these systems need to have broad coverage and deliver quality services. They also need to be sustainable, both in the sense of being within countries’ fiscal means, and in the sense of facilitating growth. 

Designing social protection systems that comply with these requirements is a major challenge, and indeed few developing countries can boast complete success. This lecture discusses some dimensions of this challenge in countries characterized by large informality, which is the situation prevalent in most countries in Latin America, a region where more than half of the labour force is informal.