Social protection, migration and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Briefing papers
June 2017
Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Elisa Mosler Vidal and Georgina Sturge
Construction workers at work, Tianjin. China, 2012. Photo: Yang Aijun / World Bank

This briefing considers the extent to which international labour migrants are covered by social protection, and the implications this has for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda). More specifically, this brief shows that social protection coverage of international labour migrants varies considerably, and outlines how this has a bearing on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to social protection - Goals 1 and 10.

Key messages

  • Expanding social protection coverage of migrants is integral to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically Goals 1 and 10.
  • Yet coverage for labour migrants remains low. 22% of migrants are not covered, including less than 1% of South-South migrants.
  • Globally, 55% of migrants are entitled to access social protection benefits, but cannot take these benefits home, or to another country (the 'portability' of benefits).
  • States should therefore ensure labour migrants are eligible for, and participate in, social protection, and that they can transfer benefits they have contributed towards.
  • To be able to create, implement and enforce effective social protection for migrants, national bodies need better data and more support.