IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Social Security Enrollment as an Indicator of State Fragility and Legitimacy: A Field Experiment in Maghreb Countries


  • Walid Merouani

    (Research Center in Applied Economics for Development, Alger 16000, Algeria
    Research Center in Economics and Management, 14032 Caen, France)

  • Claire El Moudden

    (Research Center in Economics and Management, 14032 Caen, France)

  • Nacer Eddine Hammouda

    (National Committee of Population, Alger 16000, Algeria)


State legitimacy and effectiveness can be observed in the state’s approach to delivering welfare to citizens, thus mitigating social grievances and avoiding conflicts. Social security systems in the Maghreb countries are relatively similar in their architecture and aim to provide social insurance to all the workers in the labor market. However, they suffer from the same main problem: a low rate of enrollment of workers. Many workers (employees and self-employed) work informally without any social security coverage. The issue of whether informal jobs are chosen voluntarily by workers or as a strategy of last resort is controversial. Many authors recognize that the informal sector is heterogeneous and assume that it is made up of (1) workers who voluntarily choose it, and (2) others who are pushed into it because of entry barriers to the formal sector. The former assumption tells us much about state legitimacy/attractiveness, and the latter is used to inform state effectiveness in delivering welfare. Using the Sahwa survey and discrete choice models, this article confirms the heterogeneity of the informal labor market in three Maghreb countries: Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Furthermore, this article highlights the profiles of workers who voluntarily choose informality, an aspect that is missing from previous studies. Finally, this article proposes policy recommendations in order to extend social security to informal workers and to include them in the formal labor market.

Suggested Citation

  • Walid Merouani & Claire El Moudden & Nacer Eddine Hammouda, 2021. "Social Security Enrollment as an Indicator of State Fragility and Legitimacy: A Field Experiment in Maghreb Countries," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 10(7), pages 1-25, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:10:y:2021:i:7:p:266-:d:591580

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Faillo, Marco & Grieco, Daniela & Zarri, Luca, 2013. "Legitimate punishment, feedback, and the enforcement of cooperation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 271-283.
    2. Mehdi Ben Braham & Ilham Dkhissi & Anne Petron & Nacer Eddine Hammouda & Claire El Moudden & Jean-Marc Dupuis, 2011. "L’impact des systèmes de retraite sur le niveau de vie des personnes âgées au Maghreb," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 441(1), pages 205-224.
    3. Ingela Alger & Donald Cox, 2013. "The evolution of altruistic preferences: mothers versus fathers," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 421-446, September.
    4. Anna Kaliciak & Radosław Kurach & Walid Merouani, 2019. "The Importance of Behavioural Factors for Pension Savings Decisions – Cross-Country Evidence," Acta Oeconomica, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 69(3), pages 357-391, September.
    5. Hammouda, Nacer-Eddine & Merouani, Walid, 2011. "Le système algérien de protection sociale : entre Bismarckien et Beveridgien [The Algerian social protection system: between Bismarckian and Beveridgian]," MPRA Paper 50535, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 26 Oct 2013.
    6. Fields, Gary S., 1975. "Rural-urban migration, urban unemployment and underemployment, and job-search activity in LDCs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 165-187, June.
    7. Gary Solon & Steven J. Haider & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2015. "What Are We Weighting For?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 301-316.
    8. Banerjee, Biswajit, 1983. "The Role of the Informal Sector in the Migration Process: A Test of Probabilistic Migration Models and Labour Market Segmentation for India," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(3), pages 399-422, November.
    9. Falco, Paolo, 2014. "Does risk matter for occupational choices? Experimental evidence from an African labour market," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 96-109.
    10. Sebastian Galiani & Federico Weinschelbaum, 2012. "Modeling Informality Formally: Households And Firms," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(3), pages 821-838, July.
    11. Walid Merouani & Nacer Eddine Hammouda & Nacer Claire El Moudden, 2016. "The Microeconomic Determinants of Demand for Social Security: Evidence from the Algerian Labour Market," Institutions and Economies (formerly known as International Journal of Institutions and Economies), Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, vol. 8(1), pages 25-61, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Walid Merouani & Claire El Moudden & Nacer-Eddine Hammouda, 2018. "Social Security Entitlement in Maghreb Countries: Who is Excluded? Who is not Interested?," Working Papers 1264, Economic Research Forum, revised 03 Dec 2018.
    2. Ghosh Dastidar, Sayantan, 2015. "Manufacturing and Trade Liberalisation of India: Continuing the Debate," MPRA Paper 61907, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Oyvat, Cem, 2016. "Agrarian Structures, Urbanization, and Inequality," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 207-230.
    4. Rita Almeida & Pedro Carneiro, 2012. "Enforcement of Labor Regulation and Informality," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 64-89, July.
    5. Almeida, Rita K. & Carneiro, Pedro, 2007. "Inequality and Employment in a Dual Economy: Enforcement of Labor Regulation in Brazil," IZA Discussion Papers 3094, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Erik Jonasson, 2011. "Informal Employment and the Role of Regional Governance," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(3), pages 429-441, August.
    7. Almeida, Rita & Carneiro, Pedro, 2008. "Mandated benefits, employment, and inequality in a dual economy," Social Protection Discussion Papers and Notes 45051, The World Bank.
    8. Chaudhuri, Sarbajit & Mukhopadhyay, Ujjaini, 2009. "Revisiting the Informal Sector: A General Equilibrium Approach," MPRA Paper 52135, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Haanwinckel, Daniel & Soares, Rodrigo R., 2016. "Workforce Composition, Productivity, and Labor Regulations in a Compensating Differentials Theory of Informality," IZA Discussion Papers 9951, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Andy McKay & Jukka Pirttilä & Caroline Schimanski, 2019. "The tax elasticity of formal work in African countries," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-69, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    11. Ather Maqsood Ahmed & Ismail Sirageldin, 1993. "Socio-economic Determinants of Labour Mobility in Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 32(2), pages 139-157.
    12. Alger, Ingela, 2021. "On the evolution of male competitiveness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 190(C), pages 228-254.
    13. Albertini, Julien & Terriau, Anthony, 2019. "Informality over the life-cycle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 182-202.
    14. Gary S. Fields, 2020. "Informality and work status," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2020-159, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    15. Galiani, Sebastian & Gertler, Paul & Bando, Rosangela, 2016. "Non-contributory pensions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 47-58.
    16. Hodder Rupert, 2016. "Global South and North: Why Informality Matters," New Global Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 113-131, July.
    17. Jessamyn Schaller & Mariana Zerpa, 2019. "Short-Run Effects of Parental Job Loss on Child Health," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 5(1), pages 8-41, Winter.
    18. Sims, Katharine R.E. & Alix-Garcia, Jennifer M., 2017. "Parks versus PES: Evaluating direct and incentive-based land conservation in Mexico," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 8-28.
    19. Calderón, Valentina & Marinescu, Ioana, 2012. "The Impact of Colombia's Pension and Health Insurance Systems on Informality," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 3831, Inter-American Development Bank.
    20. Austin L. Wright, 2016. "Economic Shocks and Rebel," HiCN Working Papers 232, Households in Conflict Network.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:10:y:2021:i:7:p:266-:d:591580. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: MDPI Indexing Manager (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.