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The affordability of social protection in the light of international spending commitments


Written by Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Anna McCord

​In recent years a number of international sector-specific agreements have been developed by the international community and ratified by developing countries – some with specific spending targets.

This article offers an empirical analysis of the individual and aggregate affordability of six sectoral targets and, based on the actual or estimated cost of each of the targets, compares target spending levels with actual government expenditure in five African countries.

Most targets are not met and, while individually ‘affordable’, the estimated cost of meeting the six targets simultaneously indicates that they are not jointly affordable, with an estimated cost of more than 100% of total government expenditure in four of the five countries. Meeting any of the sectoral targets in full would require either sectoral trade-offs, or significant increases in donor or government expenditure.

Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Anna McCord