Session8:

Social Protection and Social Assistance

In this session 2 papers were presented which are, respectively, (1) “Social Protection in the Arab World: A Political Rather than Social or Economic Instrument” Markus Loewe (2)”The rise of Retirement in Iran; a movement from the margin to the center of social policy”Mehran Haji Mohammadian. In the following paragraphs, a brief report of each article will be represented.

(1)

Dr Loewe said that Social protection schemes had a triple function in the development process – social, economic and political. Their social function was to prevent and reduce poverty and inequality. The economic function was to reduce risk and thereby encouraged people to become economically active, invested and ultimately generated employment and growth. And the political function was to promote social inclusion and cohesion and thereby stabilized state and society. He said that Social protection schemes had to , however, met a number of conditions in order to fully fulfill these three functions.as the author said,” This paper explores these debates in the context of the Arab region to argue that social security schemes which are in place the Arab countries do not meet these conditions”. As a result, they did not satisfy their social and economic function. At best, they accepted their political function, but only to the degree that was in line with the interests of the predominantly authoritarian regimes in the region. Arab countries are spending a considerable share of their gross domestic product on social protection. However, most Arab governments allocate large parts of the funds that they spend for social protection on social protection instruments that suffer from significant deficits in terms of efficiency and distributive justice. The existing schemes tend to redistribute bottom up rather than progressively. .He said” These schemes tend to care mainly for the politically influential urban middle classes rather than the poor, the self-employed or informal sector workers. On the other hand, the existing social protection schemes in Arab countries tend to also suffer from low transfer and targeting efficiency .The another main point that the author said that was: Arab countries did not engage non-governmental part on this issues.

(2)

As the author said this study dealt with the relationship between social policy and individual life course in the context of the Iranian modernization process. since the outset of economic and social events of the relationships between the state, society and the individual. In 1966, the government promulgated new laws on health insurance and social protection for government employees and workers. This law has changed several times since 1966, and every time it has covered more people. At the same time, the process of Iran’s urbanization had started and many people had migrated from rural and ethnic group areas to urban spaces, separating from their own environment, culture, lifestyles, and the location where their ancestors had lived for many centuries, was faced with new life chances. This particular group of migrants got, formally or informally, employed in the public and private sectors, and a considerable number of them became part of social insurance. Now, they have reached retirement age, and are eligible to old-age pensions. *This PhD project studies this specific generation that experienced living outside the modern life course, on the one hand and is now experiencing old-age pensions and modern life course, on the other. Unfortunately, both topics in this study – old-age pension and life course in Iran – have received little attention by scholars. This study attempts to fill this gap by exploring the institutional effects of social policy on individual lives in order to shed new light on the study of modernization processes in Iran. The interaction between social policy and individual life course is analyzed (1) by tracing the idea and institutionalization of pension policy in Iran since the 1966, and (2) the pensioners’ perception of that policy and the concept of retirement. In terms of the theoretical contribution, this study addresses the institutionalist life course approach within the field of Iranian studies. The institutionalist perspective points to the role of social institutions in structuring the life course towards a standardized element of modern society. To analyze the institutional design and development of pension policy, document analysis and expert interviews are used to gain a deeper insight into the nature and history of the policy. Furthermore, to explore the biographical dimension of the people, the study applies case studies and biographical research to illustrate the distinctive way in which Iranian people deal with the issue of retirement in the context of social transformation and pension policy. * Around 50 percent of the elderly population in Iran today is not receiving a pension from any of the contributory schemes and has to rely on other sources of protection, from family, social assistance, or others.