Social security offers an effective solution to tackling the causes of flight and displacement.

SW – 06/2018

This was the result of a recent study on ‘Social Protection as an Alternative to Migration? An assessment of the role of social protection in reducing push factors for migration in different country contexts’. 


The results of the study were presented in Brussels on 19 June 2018. Professor Esther Schüring, co-author of the study and Head of the International Master's Programme ‘Analysis and Design of Social Protection Systems’ at Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, explained the links between social protection, social development and migration, using case studies from Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria and Albania. Social protection can both encourage and hinder migration. Exactly how social protection influences the decision to migrate depends on the framework conditions in the countries of origin. The adequacy, frequency and reliability of benefits all influence the individual decision to migrate. 

The question of which policy recommendations can be inferred from this was further discussed in the ensuing podium discussion involving Henriette Geiger, Director in DG International Cooperation and Development, European Commission; Eugenio Ambrosi, Regional Director of the International Organization for Migration for the European Economic Area, the EU and NATO; Assane Diop, Advisor to the President of the Republic of Senegal and President of the Koungheul County Council; Dr Joachim Breuer, Director General of the DGUV and Chairman of the Board of the Association for Social Security Research and Policy (GVG) and Professor Esther Schüring. 


The discussion revealed that social protection is an important factor in improving the living conditions of people in their countries of origin. Social protection should not be seen as a cost factor, but rather as a basic right that needs to be secured and implemented. 


All of the panellists welcomed the European Union’s commitment to supporting sustainable policies, including support for social protection projects. It is important to note that this is not about ‘exporting’ European systems. The aim is to enter into a dialogue with each government and to assist them with implementing the systems they have developed themselves. 

The study calls for a policy approach to migration that combines short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies. Dr Joachim Breuer sees the results of the study as proof ‘that it is necessary to better appreciate social protection as a significant sector, which offers its own solutions to counteract the causes of flight and migration’. Social protection should be strategically integrated as a core area of possible measures in development policy. 


The German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) commissioned and funded the study. It was conducted by Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, together with the Institute for Political Science and Sociology at the University of Bonn. The study was published by the Association for Social Security Policy and Research (GVG). 


The main results of the study are available in an executive summary