A Life-Course Perspective on Social Protection among the Working Poor in Egypt

Maia Sieverding, Population Council and University of California, Berkeley

This paper employs a generational comparison to examine how increasing labor market informality has affected how poor households in Egypt gain access to and rely on social protection schemes. Using a qualitative approach rare in research on social protection, the analysis relies on in-depth interviews conducted in Cairo and a rural area of Upper Egypt. The results indicate that among the generation of Egyptians entering retirement, the expansion of public employment and a policy allowing easy inheritance of pensions by female dependants has served as important means of increasing access to social protection. However, many young households do not have even one member enrolled in the public pension system. Labor market instability and informality have also lowered the perceived value of social protection among this generation. Barring formalization, a large generation of young families has thus been left with little security in case of disability or old age.

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Presented in Session 187: Public Policy and Families in Developing Countries