Social Policies in Malta

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The country case studies and thematic papers in this series examine social policy issues facing small states and the implications for economic development. They show how, despite their inherent vulnerability, some small states have been successful in improving their social indicators because of the complementary social and economic policies they have implemented.


Malta is a highincome developed small state, with an impressive level of economic growth and a multitude of social services, which have helped to provide free health and education to all its citizens and benefits to lowincome earners. However, various national and global factors are now threatening the sustainability of this extensive social security model. This paper examines the economic, political and social development of the island, particularly since independence, highlighting the successes and failures of the social development strategies adopted and suggesting how these lessons can inform future policy decisions.



Social Policies

The social security system in Malta dates back to the Knights of St John, who provided assistance to the poor and in the mid-seventeenth century set up charitable institutions to continue this work. Later, in 1885, members of the Malta police force (followed by the Malta civil service) were the first beneficiaries of a pension scheme. In 1921 Malta was granted self-government and the foundations of a basic social security system were laid down. Table 4.1 summarises the introduction of basic social policy and security concepts and legislation in the twentieth century.


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