In 2016 Cambodia crossed the middle-income threshold, marking the transformation from a largely agrarian economy to the latest Asian Tiger. At the same time, Cambodia recorded one of the world’s most impressive declines in poverty over the past decade.

Sustaining this pace of progress will prove a formidable challenge, especially given headwinds resulting from climate change, an ageing population and global shifts in manufacturing. To accelerate socio-economic development and reduce vulnerability, the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has established a Social Protection Policy Framework (SPPF) in 2017, outlining an ambitious vision to expand coverage and increase coherence between social assistance, social insurance and labour market schemes.

The Social Protection System Review is intended to contribute to the implementation of the SPPF. It provides analysis and recommendations to lay the foundations for a comprehensive and sustainable social protection system. This Review is the result of collaboration between the OECD and senior government officials, researchers and civil society representatives in Cambodia. The Review was supported by the European Union Social Protection Systems Programme, co-financed by the European Union, the OECD and the Government of Finland.

The Review adds to the debate on the role of social protection as an engine for human development and inclusive growth in developing countries in three important ways. First, it constitutes an effort to assess Cambodia’s social protection delivery from a holistic system perspective, including social assistance, social insurance and labour market programmes. Second, it provides new empirical evidence on the dynamics of poverty and the poverty impact of social protection and fiscal policy. Third, it proposes concrete recommendations to systematise social protection, reconcile social protection and fiscal policy, and accelerate progress towards the RGC’s SPPF.

We hope this study will offer new and useful ideas on the ways to anchor the extension of social protection in Cambodia in a broader human development and inclusive growth agenda, and ultimately foster Cambodia’s transition towards prosperity and well-being.

Mario Pezzini

Director of the Development Centre

and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General

on Development OECD

H.E Sokharom Lao

Secretary General Council for Agricultural and Rural Development

Royal Government of Cambodia