The chairman of the meeting was Aart Jan de Geus, the minister of social affairs and employment of the Netherlands, with Berit Andnor, the minister for social affairs of Sweden, and Geun Tae Kim, the minister for health and welfare of Korea, as vice-chairs. The meeting included a forum on “Does Social Protection have to be provided only by government?” BIAC and TUAC also participated in the forum and held a consultation with us.
We agreed that a strong economy determines the capacity of society to achieve its social objectives. Economic growth is a critical element in providing support for families and reducing the need for government assistance. Effective economic policies are complementary to effective social policies in extending opportunities and mobilizing more assets than are currently available. Equally, effective social policies are necessary to generate economic dynamism and contribute to flexible labour markets; to ensure that childhood experiences do not lead to disadvantage in adulthood; to prevent exclusion from the labour market and society; and to ensure a sustainable system of support for the elderly. Social policies must be pro-active, stressing investment in people’s capabilities and the realisation of their potential, not merely insuring against misfortune.
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©OECD Observer No 248, March 2005