Indicator Name, Target and Goal

Indicator 1.3.1: Proportion of population covered by social protection floors/systems, by sex, distinguishing children, unemployed persons, older persons, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, newborns, work-injury victims and the poor and the vulnerable

Target 1.3: Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Definition and Rationale


The indicator measures the proportion of persons who are effectively covered by a social protection system. It includes the main components of social protection: child and maternity benefits, support for people without a job, benefits for persons with disabilities, victims of work injuries and older persons. 


Social protection systems include contributory and non-contributory schemes for children, pregnant women and women with new-borns, unemployed, older persons, victims of work injuries and persons with disabilities.

Effective coverage includes both the number of people who are either actively contributing to a social insurance scheme or receiving benefits (contributory or non-contributory). 

Rationale and Interpretation:

Social protection, or social security, is defined as the set of policies and programmes designed to reduce and prevent poverty and vulnerability throughout the life cycle. Social protection includes child and family benefits, maternity protection, unemployment support, employment injury benefits, sickness benefits, disability and old-age pensions. Social protection systems address all these policy areas by a mix of contributory schemes (social insurance) and non-contributory tax-financed benefits, including social assistance. 

Social protection systems help individuals and families, especially the poor and vulnerable, cope with crises and shocks, find jobs, improve productivity, invest in the health and education of their children, and protect the aging population. Social protection systems include contributory and non-contributory schemes for children, pregnant women with newborns, people in working age, older persons, victims of work injuries and persons with disabilities. 

Access to at least a basic level of social protection throughout the life cycle is a human right. Nationally defined social protection floors are created to guarantee decent living conditions to everyone. The proportion of the population covered by social protection floors or systems provides an indication of the extent to which a country has provided this social protection, and thus, how secure are the population's living conditions.

Data Sources and Collection Method

The primary source of data for the calculation of this indicator is from administrative datasets maintained by the national ministries of labour, social development, welfare, finance, social security institutions and others. The institutions may seek guidance from the Social Security Inquiry online manual, which lays out the definitions and concepts that should be used to monitor each component of the indicator[1]. Additional information and country practices can be obtained from the World Social Protection Report 2017/2019[2]

[1] Questions on Social Security Inquiry, definitions and concepts can be addressed to:

Method of Computation and Other Methodological Considerations

Computation Method:

Proportion of population covered by social protection systems is calculated separately for each group in order to distinguish effective coverage for children, unemployed persons, older persons and persons with disabilities,  women with newborns, workers protected in case of work injury, and the poor and the vulnerable. For each subgroup, coverage is expressed as a share of the respective reference population. See Data Disaggregation for further information. 

Proportion of population covered by social protection systems (by subgroup) is calculated using the following formula:


For example, proportion of older persons receiving a pension: ratio of persons above statutory pensionable  age receiving an old-age pension to the number of persons above statutory pensionable  age. 

The aggregate indicator is calculated as the ratio of the sum of persons protected by contributory schemes, recipients of contributory and non-contributory benefits to total population. 

Comments and limitations: 

Most of the data in the ILO World Social Protection Database are compiled through the ILO Social Security Inquiry (SSI), a questionnaire on administrative records regularly submitted to governments, complemented by existing international data. The 2016 edition of the SSI is an update of the earlier questionnaire, adapted to better reflect the newly adopted SDGs. The SSI questionnaires and manual are available online.[1]

The ILO World Social Protection Database complements the data received from the SSI, as far as possible on a consistent basis, with a number of other international and regional data sources, notably the International Social Security Association’s (ISSA) and other international organizations. The ILO World Social Protection Database also draws on national official reports and other sources, which are usually largely based on administrative data; and on survey data from a range of sources including national household income and expenditure surveys, labour force surveys and demographic and health surveys, to the extent that these include variables on social protection. When social protection coverage statistics are derived from administrative records, and especially when they are derived from various separate records put together, care should be taken to avoid double-counting of persons receiving more than one social protection benefit, or covered by more than one social protection scheme. In order to avoid double-counting when identifying the beneficiaries through the administrative records data, It is important to distinguish the recipients of basic and supplementary benefit in each sheme. 

The countries usually are able to provide a complete set of information on persons protected and actual beneficiaries at little additional cost, as the information is collected by the national institutions for the regular functioning of the scheme/programme. Difficulties may occur due to fragmentation of sources, and when capturing information about smaller or less visible schemes,  especially those not anchored in legislation. Administrative records’ coverage is not always totally comprehensive, in that it may exclude some geographic areas, or portions of the population, or economic activities. 

For social protection coverage statistics derived from household surveys, two important issues must be noted (1) periodicity: in a large number of countires household surveys are not conducted on a regular basis, which makes them less sufficientfor monitoring purposes; and (2) the extent to which information on specific transfers and programs is captured in surveys can vary a lot across countries. Often, household surveys do not capture the universe of social protection programs in the country, but only the largest national programs. Many household surveys have limited information on social protection programs. Some surveys collect information only on participation without including the transfer amounts; and others include program information mixed with private transfers, making it difficult to isolate individual social protection programs. The reliability of the information is also greatly dependent on the respondents’ accuracy. 

In addition, if the sample has not been designed to accommodate social protection coverage (especially when it comes to the number of beneficiaries), the survey may not produce reliable statistics in that respect. There is no guarantee that the sample size will be sufficiently large to allow for detailed disaggregation of beneficiaries from social security benefits. 

Proxy, alternative and additional indicators: N/A

Data Disaggregation

This indicator is to be disaggregated by sex, age (children/adults), unemployed persons, older persons, persons with disabilities, women with newborns, work-injury victims and the poor and the vulnerable


Official SDG Metadata URL

Internationally agreed methodology and guideline URL
International Labour Organization:–en/index.htm

The World Bank: ASPIRE. The Atlas of Social Protection – Indicators of Resilience and Equity. Available at: 

Other references
International Labour Organization (2016). Social Security Inquiry Manual.

International Labour Organization (2012). Social Protection Floors Recommendation. (n202).,P12100_LANG_CODE:3065524

International Labour Organization (2017/2019). World Social Protection Report.  

Country examples

International Organization(s) for Global Monitoring

This document was prepared based on inputs from International Labour Organization (ILO).

For focal point information for this indicator, please visit

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