Social Policies in Samoa

image of Social Policies in Samoa

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.


Samoa is widely known as a role model in the Pacific region for its economic and social achievements since gaining independence in 1962. This indepth study traces the history of government policy and examines the fundamentals underpinning the country’s social development progress: the welfare state; social cohesion; participative democracy and the power of jurisdiction. It also examines how the fa’a Samoa, the Samoan culture, and securing external assistance enabled the country to build resilience in the face of a number of crises in the 1990s – including two cyclones and a taro blight.



Design and Scope of Social Policy

Since independence, Samoa has constantly highlighted social development as the gateway to prosperity. Hence social policy, both in past years and currently, has been designed so as to advance the living standards of the population. In pursuing this aim, the government, the international community and society as a whole have interacted in numerous ways to devise and implement policies that have proved critical to improving social standards. Such policies have targeted components of a framework that includes production, social protection, redistribution and reproduction. In essence, the state has determined which particular element deserves central attention. It is misleading not to recognise the welfare state as a significant force that has enabled Samoa to achieve improved social welfare, as presented in the preceding discussion. The state has invested heavily in social policy since independence; it is evident that if it had not done so, social indicators for Samoa would have been worse, as is the case for many of the neighbouring countries in the region (UNDP, 2007).


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