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Over the past three decades there has been an expansion of global education policy-making. This is the outcome of interactions among an array of international, multilateral, corporate agencies and civil society actors, who have entered into the education sector in various capacities: as policy shapers, providers, financiers, owners of infrastructures and regulators.

Given that education is a profoundly national and sub-national activity, it might come as a surprise that education systems around the world are increasingly governed through global policies. This involves not only obvious forms of global activity, but also, as Sassen argues, significant units within sub/national state architectures that have recalibrated their spatial horizons towards the global (2006), creating new interdependencies between the institutions of global governance and national states (see Chapter 1, this volume). Understanding why and how this is happening is important, not least because education is a key pillar of the social contract between states and civil society as well as a key institution of welfare systems. Such developments bring new challenges for governing, especially for intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), particularly when they lack strong regulatory capacities.

In this chapter we draw on Mittelman’s (2000) conceptualisation of globalisation as a syndrome of related, although contradictory, processes and activities, that have set in train a historic transformation in the economy, in politics and in cultural milieus (Mittelman, 2000, p 7). A key feature of the current manifestation of globalisation is its ideational base – that of neoliberalism – mobilised in the 1980s by critics of bureaucratic state power (Peck, 2013), and as an alternative to Keynesianism (Harvey, 2007) (see Chapter 1, this volume).

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Health is of particular relevance to global social policy (GSP) for three reasons.

First, it is a universal human right, and gross social inequalities in health undermine this right. Health inequalities have been addressed to reduce unequal health outcomes across countries and regions as well as to ensure equity in access to health services and medicines. Traditionally, this has been sought through development assistance for health, focused especially on international disease- or action-specific programmes such as those on HIV/AIDS, vaccinations or maternal and child health. Second, global health concerns have been identified by their potential to transcend national borders, in particular the risks of epidemics and contagious diseases, which can spread to/from the Global South to/from the Global North.

Coordinating action and ensuring resources has therefore required action at a global level to mitigate or contain these public health risks. The health security threats of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), global pandemic influenza and COVID-19 are good examples of this type of global health concern. Third, promoting health and preventing diseases requires protection from harmful or unsafe products and practices. These activities are influenced by transnational corporations (TNCs) and shaped by global markets. Global agreements and policy frameworks to tackle, for example, tobacco and alcohol consumption, and to ensure food security, food safety and nutritional quality, may be necessary for national policy measures to be effective.

Global health policy analysis draws from the understanding of global health as a multidisciplinary and multisectoral practice (Koplan et al, 2009). It is concerned with global agreements, financing, policies and practices of global actors, structures and measures that focus on health and health service provision, as well as the ways in which national and global health policies are shaped by global health issues and other global agreements, actors and processes.

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For as long as humankind has existed, we have migrated. Whether in flight from persecution, war, conflict or poverty, or in search of peace, work, a career, a better climate or for love, migration is a normal part of everyday life. At another level, international migration is exceptional, in that international migrants account for just 3.5 per cent of the world’s population. This has remained the case for much of the last century (IOM, 2019, p 3).

Even though the aggregate number of migrants globally is actually rather small, migrants tend to be concentrated in certain areas of the world, hence the socioeconomic and political impacts of migration in relation to global policy-making and global social welfare are substantial, if unevenly distributed and experienced. At one level, migration is a major flashpoint in contemporary global politics, and a factor in widening global inequalities and the growth of political populism worldwide. At another level, migration gives rise to new social formations and welfare arrangements. Transnational connections among people include the sending of remittances, which play a crucial role in sustaining welfare and financing development. Migrant advocacy groups exhibit high degrees of political agency and policy activism. The effects of repeated, continuous movements of people over time impact on social structures, forging multistranded personal and social networks that give rise to diasporic families and communities, linking people and places, societies and economies, and health and welfare systems around the world.

For all these reasons and more besides, migration opens a fascinating vista on to the state of the world’s welfare, the contested politics of global social policy (GSP)-making, and political struggles over global development, state sovereignty, rights and resources.

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The goal of global poverty reduction is now at the heart of an international consensus, enshrined within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and pursued by international institutions such as the World Bank and governments in high- and low-income countries alike. But deciding what poverty is, how it should be measured and the best ways to reduce it are not straightforward. Furthermore, related phenomena also demand our attention, particularly the current degree of global inequality and its causes and consequences. In addressing these issues, the aim of this chapter is not to summarise the huge volume of literature on poverty and inequality that now exists, or to explain basic concepts relating to poverty and inequality, which can be found elsewhere. Rather, it aims to explore and explain the challenges of measuring and tackling poverty and inequality at the global level. It will discuss some national-level concepts and data for various countries, but its chief aim in doing so is to explain how these are related to processes of globalisation and how they are incomplete without a global analysis.

The chapter discusses global poverty and inequality in turn. In both cases, it discusses issues of measurement first before going on to discuss the politics and policies related to tackling the problem. It is worth noting from the beginning, however, that measurement issues are not purely technical matters, but are themselves highly political.

Ruth Lister (2021, pp 3–4) argues that ‘there is no single concept of poverty that stands outside history and culture. It is a construction of specific societies.

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One of the strong justifications of global social policy (GSP) is the growing theory and practice of global justice. The latter is founded on the moral and political claim that, in today’s globalising world, our duties and obligations to other people extend beyond state borders. This implies that if people elsewhere (in other countries) find themselves in morally disturbing conditions due to unjust outcomes of globalisation or the dire consequences of global diseases such as COVID-19, we are obliged to act to mitigate existing injustices and prevent further injustice. International actions cannot be only by civil society mobilisations and advocacy campaigns. Rather, they can also take the form of institutional actions, including policies of global social redistribution, global social regulation and global social rights. These are GSPs that respond to global injustice, including health inequity and lack of social welfare (Deacon et al, 1997).

Global justice marks the shift from a Hobbesian perspective on international political morality to a Kantian one. The latter is more cosmopolitan and less statist than the former (see the next section). This implies that a Kantian perspective does not presuppose sovereign power for obliging people to follow moral principles. Indeed, some commentators on global justice, such as Amartya Sen (1999), Martha C. Nussbaum (2000), Gillian Brock (2009), Charles Beitz (1999) and Thomas Pogge (2002), argue that although we have special connections with those in close relation to us, we also have relations to humanity as a whole. These relations raise the issue of our obligations to the global citizen.

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Water, energy and food are fundamental to individual and collective welfare. They focus attention on the mismatch between resource needs and the social systems through which resources are distributed. Some of this mismatch arises from environmental variability, but significant components are shaped by global social policy (GSP). For instance, the large energy inputs required to produce synthetic fertilisers and pesticides for industrial agriculture require international networks for monetary investment and infrastructures to move food for billions of people daily. Likewise, the tens of thousands of large dams that now block rivers around the world to create reservoirs for irrigation, cities and hydropower require global networks of engineering expertise and supply chains for construction materials like sand and cement. The energy extracted from fossil fuels requires significant water inputs, while energy use is the dominant contributor to climate change, the adverse impacts of which disproportionately affect those least responsible for the rapidly warming planet.

Water, food and energy have each long been significant areas of GSP, such as in international development, foreign aid and global trade (Schmidt, 2021). Perhaps surprisingly, however, the connections between water, energy and food, and their impact on human welfare and environmental health, have not always been fully recognised. That changed in the years between 2005 and 2008, when global food prices skyrocketed even though there was no physical shortage. Riots broke out in nearly two-dozen countries as the cost of wheat rose by 130 per cent and the price of rice doubled (Bush, 2010). At the same time, strong economic growth from 2003 to 2008 pushed oil prices to uncharted heights (Lutz and Hicks, 2013).

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In 2016, the World Bank and the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, in short, USP2030 (Rutkowski and Ortiz, 2016), with a view to ensuring ‘full coverage of all people across the life cycle’. The USP2030 marks a new stage in the long struggle for protecting individuals against the vicissitudes of life. Social security is a response to the socioeconomic insecurities that people experience in modern society and capitalism, ensuing from industrialisation, marketisation, urbanisation, migration and individualisation. This chapter enquires: what is social security? How did the idea and practice of social security rise historically in the Global North and South? What are the key policies and institutional models of global social security? In what ways do international organisations (IOs) influence domestic policies? What issues are at the forefront of social security policies, with what contestations? And what are the new challenges faced by global social security policies?

‘Social security’ denotes welfare programmes, mainly income security and social services, but it is also an ideal, carrying visions of a good society (Kaufmann, 2012).

Since the early 2010s, the term social protection has almost superseded the older term ‘social security’. In this chapter I mostly use the term ‘social security’, which is still in use, because the historical rise of social protection revolved around this term, and security, rather than protection, is a fundamental normative idea of modernity. The term ‘social protection’ has been defined in very different ways (see Devereux and Sabates-Wheeler, 2004, pp 3–4, for a discussion), sometimes equated with ‘social security’ (see, for example, UN, 2018, p 5), sometimes defined in a broader way, including labour rights and anti-discrimination.

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Trade has always been an important form of economic relationship between people of different communities and countries. International trade in the period after the Second World War laid the basis for the kind of international economic integration we now associate with globalisation. This chapter reviews how the international trading system and its governance has developed in the post-war period, what forms trade policy-making takes, and how trade relates to the welfare state and ‘welfare’ more generally. It begins with a discussion of the different ways that economists and social policy analysts think about welfare, and why trade is important for social policy. It then explains how the trading system has developed in the post-war period, before looking in detail at trade policy-making processes and institutions as core parts of global economic governance. The role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the centrality of bargaining between states is explained. The final section examines in detail the social policy implications of international trade, focusing on the relationship between the welfare state and trade.

The development of capitalism as an economic system has been intimately entwined with the development of national states. States have played a crucial role in facilitating the development of capitalism through providing a system of law and contract that guarantees the rights of property owners and sets a framework within which exchange can take place, as well as legitimising and regulating a common currency. Of course, trade across the borders created by these states has taken place as long as those borders have been in place, but the existence of national institutions, governments and currencies has meant that such trade is necessarily international, that is, it takes place between countries as well as between specific individuals or firms.

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