A strong economy that provides opportunities for people at all levels of society will ultimately promote a safe country. And institutions are the main channel through which a government can plan, manage and implement policies to provide more and better economic opportunities for its people, reduce poverty, and promote long-term development. Building capacity for institutions in developing countries that can provide social protections—such as health care and pensions—should be one of the United States’ top priorities. As CAP noted in its 2009 report “Institutions Matter,” the International Labor Organization has calculated that “a basic package [of social protections] is affordable in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and can have a significant impact in reducing poverty and vulnerability.”
The United States should launch an aggressive effort to train and maintain technical experts to assist low-income countries wishing to establish basic benefit packages for their populations. These institution-building efforts will certainly require an increased USAID workforce and a budget increase, but the prospect of improving long-term economic stability in at-risk countries more than justifies the investment. There will be no one-size-fits-all benefit package for countries around the world, but a strong commitment of U.S. personnel and support is the first step toward progress in confronting the security challenges posed to the United States by underdevelopment.
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