Tunisia is reported to be improving its social security system. They’ve aimed to offer a stable minimum income, comprehensive coverage and provision for decent housing. The amounts being offered are not large: an increase from 70 dinars a month (less than $29) to 150 dinars earlier this year and now 180 dinars (a bit under $74), a little extra (10 dinars) for each child in school, a fund for loans to house buyers, and exemption from fees for medical care (but I don’t know enough to say how that is actually going to work). The national GDP per capita now seems to be in the region of $10,800 (USD), so the benefits are not likely to be enough to live on. Having said that, the commitment to extended coverage is a big deal: Tunisia has previously been reported as having something on the region of 80% coverage, and the people not covered before included agricultural workers, domestic servants and unemployed people.
The extension of coverage in low to middle income countries in recent years has been remarkable. In a recent lecture, Minouche Shafik of LSE pointed to the rapid growth of a range of welfare measures across the developing world – more than 80 have social security pensions, more than 120 have some unconditional cash transfers. Around the world, she argues, the “state” is coming to mean a “welfare state”.