What Is GSP?


Read about specific examples of GSP: health

An undocumented Mexican migrant in Denver, Colorado who cannot access the US health care system, takes her child to the Mexican consulate for vaccinations so she can enroll in a US public school.  A young German family, struggling to care for elderly grandparents given the retrenchment of state-supported social welfare, hires a low-wage Filipino migrant to provide elder care in their home.  When that same migrant sends her wages back to the Philippines to support her family, the government taxes a portion of those remittances to help fund its national health care program.  An aging Ethiopian janitor with a US work permit, who has cleaned buildings on a university campus for more than 20 years, wants to spend his old age with his family in Ethiopia, but despite paying taxes to the US government for years, he cannot take those benefits with him when he leaves.  Meanwhile, the Ethiopian government struggles to pay for the education of its youth and for elder care because so many of its working-age citizens pay taxes to their governments of residence rather than their government of birth.

We live in a world on the move. One out of every thirty-three persons in the world today is a migrant (IOM, 2011).  There are an estimated 214 million international migrants worldwide, up from 150 million in 2000 (Terrazas, 2011). According to the World Bank, in 2010, official remittance topped US $440 billion. In 24 countries, the economic influx from remittances equaled more than 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); in nine countries remittances accounted for more than 20 percent of GDP. These developments are taking shape within the context of heightened globalization and neo-liberalism, global economic crises, and high levels of unemployment that are driving up migration while, at the same time, diminishing state spending on social protection.

Because mobility is so widespread (although not equally accessible to everyone) and because state and non-state actors are taking on new functions and shedding old ones in response, migration is not an independent or autonomous aspect of national development.  Rather, migration is a cause and consequence of development in countries of origin as well as destination (Castles & Delgado Wise, 2008; de Haas, 2008; Goldring, 2004; Glick Schiller and Faist, 2010; Mazzucato, 2011).  But many questions remain. When people work for the majority of their lives in one country and then retire in another, for example, who pays for their pension and health care?  Which government should protect the rights of domestic workers who care for the elderly in receiving states but support their family members back home and according to what rules? And how do we understand the increasingly complicated relationship between national governments and the rising number of transnational non-governmental organizations that also seek to provide social protections across borders? 

Systems of social welfare and social protection—long envisioned as local or national-level phenomena—are adapting to this increasingly transnational world.  But the fundamental question remains – how will people be protected and provided for outside the traditional framework of the nation-state, given widespread neoliberal restructuring, precarious employment, and economic crisis?  We do not know enough about the new kinds of social safety nets, or lack thereof, that are emerging in response to these dynamics. A necessary and important next step is to map these new institutional arrangements and to begin to assess who they protect and who they leave out. What are sending states doing to protect emigrants and what are receiving states doing to deal with long-term non-citizens?  What kinds of cooperative, bi-lateral, multi-lateral or global arrangements are taking shape? In a nutshell, how do issues of welfare and social protection interact with social inclusion, integration, and relations between migrant communities and host societies? Researchers know a great deal about the dynamics of transnational families and about community development efforts carried out across borders by hometown associations.  These research strands must now be brought into conversation with work on how health, education, senior care, and basic social security are also changing as increasing numbers choose or are forced to live their lives across borders.

Download the draft Global Social Protections framing paper here.

Download the article published in Oxford Development Studies (October 2016).