Social Policies in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu

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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.


Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are two small states that have struggled to develop successful social policies since gaining independence. This final study in the series traces the history of social development in both countries, examining closely the factors that have hindered progress: the colonial legacy, poor economic development, high population growth, political instability, the lack of social cohesion, mismanagement of resources and natural disasters. The authors argue that for progress to continue both countries need to move away from a reliance on their traditional social structures and focus on political stability and economic growth.



Political Economy of Social Policies

Any discussion of social policies involves a consideration of the economy and politics, following the tradition of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who referred to the relationship between the two as political economy. Segura-Ubiergo (2007: 1) defined the welfare state ‘as a repertoire of state-led policies aimed at securing a minimum of welfare to its citizens – that is, protecting them against the risks of unemployment, sickness, maternity and old age and providing an adequate accumulation of human capital through public investments in health and education’. Segura-Ubiergo also provides an interesting review of the main theories that define a welfare state. These are also addressed in the various thematic papers relating to the overall study of social policy in small states published by UNRISD and by the UNRISD/Commonwealth Secretariat research project on social policies in small states.


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