Outline of a monograph on the social protection system in Morocco
31.01.2021 Brahim Labari
Moroccan society: sociodemographic advantages and socio-political constraints
Like other former colonised countries, Morocco, which was under French protectorate from 1912 to 1956, has, since its independence, undertaken far-reaching reforms to create a model of development which combines fidelity to the religious traditions which make up Ma-rokko's personality with the necessary modernisation of social, economic, cultural and even spiritual structures.
Ever since gaining independence, Morocco has been marked by a double legacy: on the one hand by its past, rich in customs and centuries-old traditions with its attitude towards power, and on the other hand by the protectorate with all its complex and in many ways alien infrastructure for the Moroccan population. Within half a century (1960-2010) extensive changes have affected Moroccan society. In a short list we could summarize them as follows:
The socio-demographic benefits are reflected in a constant population growth, which increases from 20 million inhabitants in 1981 to 29.6 million in 2004 and 33.8 million in 2014. It should also be noted that more than 60% of the population is urban due to an almost permanent rural exodus.The current demography has a juvenile face (more than 52% of this population is less than 25 years old). More than a third of the population settles in the great metropolis of Casablanca, known under the protectorate as "Useful Morocco" (le Maroc Utile) - the Casablanca-Kénitra axis.
On the basis of the work of Paul Pascon, one of the most famous sociologists, we may say that Moroccan society can be described as cubed; more precisely, it allows a plurality of social models to interact. It is a society where several forms of social organisations meet, which the author lists in this order: patriarchal organisation, tribal organisation, gang leader organisation and finally industrial organisation. P. Pascon claims, using examples, that each individual can alternately belong to these different organisations because of his or her different behaviour. The sociological effort made by P. Pascon to understand the Moroccan here as a modular human being and society as extremely diverse is commendable; but he did not identify any other conspicuous parameters within this Moroccan process other than those he had researched in various rural populations. By highlighting the rural at a time when Marxist thinking was fashionable, the concept of a jumbled society had a descriptive rather than a resolute analytical quality. P. Pascon was convinced that imported concepts could not be effective in all contexts, so he preferred the term "conglomerate society" rather than "feudalistic or Asian mode of production", as it used to be called. By these standards, the social protection system itself followed the same logic:
Mutual support within the large family acted as a shield for the weakest and provided food and care for the closest relatives in a concept of horizontal solidarity. The idea of the family as the central unit of domestic social security was a necessity in a society that lacked infrastructure for nursing homes, especially in remote areas and far from any "civilising" influence. At the same time, the Muslim religion supports the people most needy in securing their livelihood through the third pillar of Islam, namely Zakat (obligation to make part of one's wealth available to one's fellow human beings in need and difficulty): The richest help the poorest. At the same time, local associations have developed to support solidarity between individuals.
Migration: Driving force for development in Morocco?
Throughout history, nomadic culture, regularly threatened by drought disasters, has become firmly rooted in the context of "Inner Morocco": Water, friend of the Almighty, has historically had a considerable influence on internal migration. From the plains to the countryside, migration is the result of a family dynamic seeking for stability in housing and an advantageous better life. From the countryside to the city, migrations are primarily male, their main moving motive being the search for work and, at best, employment. The state is the regulator par excellence of the migration of rural mountain dwellers to the villages of the plains: The progressive electrification of the landscape, the almost universal education of boys and girls, the expansion of farmland render the lowlands as attractive as the virtuous eco-villages that were ahead of their time. After being a sending country of migrants for a very long time - the Moroccan diaspora, which is mainly based in Europe, amounts to about 6 million people abroad - Morocco has been confronted with strong immigration applications for several years.
Morocco was often seen as a transit country, but the reality has changed radically: Society has become a reservoir for groups of people inclined to settle permanently in Morocco. Certainly, in recent years, contemporary concerns have pushed sub-Saharan populations to the fore, but Moroccan society has always included a proportion of foreigners. There are certain migratory movements in Morocco that are more visible than others. This undoubtedly applies to sub-Saharan residents in public spaces. Their drastically increased numbers, their ethnic visibility, the periodic mediatisation which overwhelms them, the itinerant trade involving many of them, It can be seen today that a large number of the population needs to settle in a cosmopolitan city like Tangier or Casablanca. As this migration is irregular, spontaneous and not very organised, it is subject to many delusions and questions. But Morocco has always been home to less visible and better organised communities. The immigrant European Community is the oldest, the Chinese the youngest, not forgetting the immigrants from Algeria and Tunisia, to mention only the most typical examples. Apart from a few general quantitative studies developed under the guidance of the High Planning Commission (HCP), there are few inspiring qualitative sociological studies. Research on permanently settled foreigners in Morocco has shown constant characteristics:
The foreign population in Morocco is primarily from Europe, more precisely from France. These foreigners are mainly to be found in the country's famous urban centres (Casablanca, Rabat, Kenitra). The city of Marrakech has become a settlement for fairly wealthy foreigners in recent years. The population is predominantly male and relatively old (+ 60 years).
Despite the prejudices, foreign immigrants do not necessarily belong to the business community or hold management positions. It should be noted that waves of French and Spanish graduates, attracted by favourable Moroccan opportunities, are streaming to Morocco for work and settlement. This can be explained by the equally considerable number of international companies (multinationals or relocations) that are moving to Morocco. Given the scale of immigration, Morocco has adopted a policy on two fronts: The conditions for regularisation are clearly identified and the rules for asylum applications are being drawn up. All this complies with international conventions and agreements with the European Union. Although this policy aims at respecting the human rights of immigrants, it is determined to remain effective in terms of regularisation of admission and residence.
From a sociological point of view, it would be more interesting to conduct more in-depth research to examine the nature of foreign immigration in Morocco by means of ambitious questions, such as the communitarisation of immigration, the extent of the internationalisation of Moroccan society, the proportion of the mix of different population groups in society and the inconvenience of the globalisation process in local societies…
The social space is structured both by youth unemployment and by increasing the proportion of women in insecure life circumstances and by an education system that is largely decoupled from the labour market
Unemployment among young people is not only one of the worst-regulated areas in developing countries, it is also a feature of the inability of government and social public policies to regulate the labour market in favour of young people. The same applies to Morocco.
According to statistics of the High Planning Commission, the country has an unemployment rate of 40% for young urban and 60% for rural residents. One of the reasons often cited for these high rates is the shortcomings of the education system. Training is a burning issue in Morocco because it reveals the structural problems: poverty, uncertainty, unemployment, including university graduates, relative population pressure and brain drain. All this puts Morocco in a worrying position on the development index ranking. In parallel with these persistent difficulties, illiteracy and "blind" uncritical imitation are on the rise in the education sector, the inefficiency of the education sector and the inadequacy of education policies that are overstretched or simply irrelevant. Using significant cross-indicators, the dialectical relationship between education, training and the world of work can be analysed, no matter how the state policy prescribes it. Special criteria for this are the situation of women and the precarious situation of various sections of the population in a society still regarded as patriarchal . If these social parameters are supplemented by the necessary mutations, both from within (the often violent "outbreak of the street" as a source or threat of demands; the difficulties of managing territories where peace is increasingly difficult to balance) and from outside (strategic choices for education in the Mediterranean and in a global context), then the question of education seems an interesting approach to grasp and understand the changes in Moroccan society. This change must be expected to be much less dynamic than the demands of the probably wintry "Arab Spring": this society needs economically longed-for equilibria, but equilibrium is not possible without appropriate skills, for which, despite continuous efforts, resources are often not available.
The issue of unemployed skilled workers is of fundamental importance. It reveals the weak state of education and its insufficient career prospects. At the same time, it calls into question the ability of public policies to provide social recognition for those who have successfully graduated and are in paid employment at the cost of huge efforts on their part, their families and also the state. Thus, the graduates and their ruling interlocutors each try to give a committed "reasoned" and territorial (in a symbolic and strategic sense) vision and definition of the two terms "education" and "training" which seems to be capable of consensus among experts. If the teleology of the first term is "civic", the ultimate purpose of any training must be to lead to employment which guarantees social cohesion and active practical citizenship in the face of the excessive demands of the market resulting from the process of globalisation. The Ministry of Education, on the other hand, remains essentially limited to education... For illustration, the statistics currently available show an increase in the number of unemployed graduates. However, we must remain vigilant as to what affects these statistics and consider their interpretation soberly in the light of an environment where the informal sector fully reigns.
An economy dominated by informal and popular employments
„Black cigarette sellers, confectioners (pancakes) and bakers (bread) who market their home-made morning production in the evening, greengrocers, water sellers, street cobblers, dealers in Ray Ban glasses and other fakes on the terrace of street cafés, knitwear dealers around the corner, public writers, painters and glass makers, plumbers and technicians who rent out their premises by the day around markets, an entire people lives and survives in the cities of the Third World and especially in Morocco. A little cleverness and a lot of boldness, nothing to lose, chance and a little luck, a few dirhams for the initial investment; that's all you need to practise this kind of profession“. (Daoud, 1980, S. 71, translation by socialnet).
This particular and meaningful description of the forms of work within Moroccan society is still valid today. These different listed "professions" are more the rule than the exception in Morocco. The importance of the category "work" in Moroccan society deserves very extensive research. Work can alternately mean the following: The ability to organise one's day, to engage in community activities, to earn one's living in the sweat of one's brow without begging, which is the domain of people with disabilities. In all cases, work requires something in return: a salary, a courtesy, tending a field, harvesting fruit, etc. It is certainly synonymous with employment, but it is an employment which is oriented towards a return. Common sense perceives the one who is not working as "a high employee of the Ministry of Calm, Thoughtfulness and Shoulder to Shoulder" for mocking his laziness and also to emphasize his uselessness for society. In this case, the informal work would be the effect of the "nomadic culture" and the original ruralism of a large number of Moroccans.
Large social and regional disparities weaken the universality of social protection and equal opportunities
In Moroccan society, which is inevitably unsocial, there is a tendency towards fatalism (what happens, had to happen), not to say that it is very pithy. There is a proverb: "He who has, to him will be given", but the rich are feared because they are friends of the powerful and even seem favoured by Providence. The subordinate accepts his situation because he finds that his liberation is in the hands of his superiors. Everything runs as if "resigning oneself" was strategically more promising than "resisting". Common sense is overflowing with adaptation to fatalism, as if to emphasise that people from good families are the first to be served when it comes to gaining access to wealth or an advantageous position: one has relationships, another's grandmother belongs to the inner circle of power, another is an aggouram  blessed by God… Someone else enjoys the favour of Providence and as a free rider he even benefits from a number of privileges for transportation. Seen from a religious point of view, there is no need for a series of quotations to support the correctness of social inequalities: "If Allah decides to favour you, no one can prevent it. If the whole of humanity joins with you against the will of Allah to favour you, it will not happen", a Hadith clearly proclaims.
A number of anthropological studies have shown how Moroccans, even more so Moroccan women, are inclined to acquire a form of resignation to reality, to adopt a fatalistic view of the social or cosmic order, even to justify consensus and, consequently, authoritarianism, from whichever side it comes.
Ernest Gellner  on Community structures, John Waterbury  in the policy area and more recently Abdallah Hammoudi  from a historical perspective, have underlined the permanence of the segmental legacies in the Moroccan context. It is claimed in the depths of Morocco that entrepreneurship is the emanation of zaouia. For it would be the religious leaders, the warriors of the good tribes, who would be best suited for the management. Yet fatalism and resignation do not only unite with religion, they can also cause inequalities to arise from a sociological hopelessness that declares them inevitable. In my opinion, all this is due to two kinds of reading of the social order: Polarisation against assimilation of the middle class in society. Instead of equality, legality would now be preferred.
It should be noted that the latter is aimed at each individual person in order to identify their expectations and complaints arising from individual needs that cannot be applied to the whole population. Equality is an established political demand, supported by workers and trade union movements. The sociology of Morocco, it seems to me, has a long way to go to shed light on these shades and, moreover, to explain contradictory interpretations of antisocial contexts in such different areas as health care, education or even differences in status.
Indignation at an unequal society
In fact, the indignation consists of saying "Stop it!" to so many social injustices! This is even the yardstick by which ordinary people's conscious insight into the extent of social inequalities can be measured. Getting outraged means making a diagnosis about what exists. The feelings of indignation slumber intensively in every perceptive person. This also explains the success of Stéphane Hessel's booklet  and its transmission in the 15. May movement in several "democratic" societies. Even if the reflection of this elderly, experienced thinker is devoted to the broad construction site of global inequalities, it remains that unequal societies may find cause for outrage in it: The over-indebted families, whose incomes are often swallowed up by inflation and who are unable to educate their children, could use it as a yardstick for organising themselves and demanding greater esteem for the middle class, as a real interface between the upper class and the working class
Protest movement as loud indignation against social inequalities
Publicly denouncing the fatalist view, going further than simply outrage, stigmatising inequalities, is the very last phase of the protest movement. To propose in this respect an egalitarian model of society, to found another society which will satisfy most people, is the business of the protesting pioneers, as esteemed by Marx and the Marxists. On closer examination, we can justify the fact that the mass movements, which are multiplying rapidly here and there, are turning the problem of inequality into their main task.
Territorial inequalities with the heavy legacy of "Useful Morocco" and "Useless Morocco", as recently confirmed by the uprisings in the Rif; inequalities in accessing culture and an effective education system: medium-sized towns such as Agadir do not have cinemas (recently, virtual petitioner movements have been circulating for this purpose); inequalities in relation to a good, close civil service, far removed from the very eager officials, often poorly trained to serve the citizen; such obvious inequalities between men and women, especially in relation to salaries (the famous glass ceiling) ; inequalities perceived by Hogra (feeling stigmatised or being branded) in relation to cultural and linguistic rights, such as Amazigh culture; inequalities in media and television representation in a pluralistic Morocco that has lived in enviable harmony for centuries; finally, inequalities in the political promotion of an outdated ruling class that is considered corrupt because it ignores the famous credo "serve and not help yourself" - all these accumulated inequalities give rise to resentment and frustration.
In an article almost forgotten today, John Waterbury , as a political scientist and expert on elites, focused on the revolution of rising expectations, resulting out of personal frustration, from which each social group points to the social inequalities it seeks to eliminate. It is a counterpart to the Marxist theory of inequality and invites political power to promote the institutionalisation of an open society based on a responsible and durable contract. Two outstanding factors follow from this: firstly, public policies should be sensitive to human developments and respond to social deficits, to real expectations and to social and societal upheaval. Secondly, the ineffectiveness of public policies is an indicator for the difficulty of achieving human development.
The social protection system was permeated by religiousness for a long time until it became a model of human rights following recommendations by the International Labour Organisation (ILO)
In Morocco, the social protection system of charity, welfare or pious activities is gradually being transformed into a model based on the recognition of human rights. This right is enshrined in the agreements of the United Nations (UN), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) or the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is underpinned by major transnational initiatives, one of the most recent being the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. Social protection is in fact the basis of the Social Treaty and the bonds of reciprocity and solidarity without which societies, regardless of their level of development, cannot ensure their cohesion, prosperity or protect the dignity of their citizens.
Current considerations on social protection revolve around the question of the universal unconditional basic income, in the context of the international debate. This idea is based on the principle that, if social protection is a human right and everyone can make a demand on society on this basis, then every citizen can receive money for his or her living expenses without any compensation. This idea immediately raises a double question and this is where its limits lie: it is a question of financial feasibility and the social impact, particularly in terms of employment relationships. But this discussion has the merit of reflecting both on the importance of social protection in public policy. And also to re-launch the debate on the value that this policy attaches to social cohesion and on the capacity of policy to conceive and want justice in the redistribution of wealth, including the ways in which social protection is financed through taxes, income from capital, wealth and labour.
In this respect, CESE has carried out a review of the normative and conceptual framework of social protection in order to shed light on and contribute to the intense debate on Morocco's development model which took place at the request of King Mohammed VI.
What does the right to social protection entail? In order to shed more light on the conceptual framework of social protection, in 2007 the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights drafted General Comment No. 19, which divides the content of the right to social protection into three principles:
- Social security is both a fundamental human right and an economic and social necessity for progress and development.
- Social security fulfils a specific task of redistribution and promotes social inclusion.
- The responsibility for implementing the right to social security should, as a whole, primarily fall to the State. For the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, social security is "the right of access to benefits, whether in cash or in kind, without discrimination, to ensure protection, including against:
- Loss of earned income due to illness, maternity, industrial accident, unemployment and old age or the death of a family member;
- Disproportionate costs for health care;
- Poor family allowances, especially dependent children and adults.
Apart from its normative definition, the right to social security raises the question of its implementation. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stressed the importance for public authorities to base their policies on concrete and measurable principles of action, namely: availability of one or more schemes dedicated to the provision of social security benefits; completeness of risks covered; adequacy of benefits; accessibility (eligibility criteria for benefits must be reasonable, proportionate, transparent and provided in due course); and participation (beneficiaries of social security schemes must be able to participate in the management of the scheme).
In 2015, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted a declaration entitled "The Foundations of Social Protection: a key principle of social security law and SDGs". In doing so, it made clear that the principles of social protection, to be clarified by the ILO in 2012 and reaffirmed by the SDGs in 2015, "constitute an essential element of the progressive realisation of social security rights". In order to guarantee efficient access to necessary health care and basic lifelong security of livelihood, at least the basic principles of social protection should consist of the following four warranties:
- Access to essential health care, including maternity..
- Basic income security for children.
- Basic income security for the working age population who are unable to earn an adequate salary.
- Basic income security for senior citizens.
The conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) constitute the main reference system of international social security law and in this respect influence public policies in most countries of the world.
Between 1919 and 2012, the ILO adopted 31 conventions and 24 recommendations in the field of social security, i.e. almost 20% of international conventions relating to labour and 10% of the total number of ratifications. Convention No. 102, concerning social security (minimum standard) of 1952 and Recommendation No. 202, adopted in 2012, represent two main normative standards. Convention 102 of the International Labour Organisation on Social Security, adopted in 1952 and entered into force in 1957, specifies both the minimum level of social security benefits and the conditions under which they are granted and the nine sectors in which coverage is guaranteed. Recommendation 202 on the basic principles of social protection provides a general direction to supplement and extend social security systems by introducing national social security bases accessible to everyone in need. The idea of basic social protection aims at promoting strategies based on a two-dimensional model: a horizontal dimension providing social protection for all (men and women) and a vertical dimension improving the level of benefits.
Morocco's participation in international social security law is low compared to international standards. After Morocco was considered an intra-African and Arab leader in the development of the legal framework for social security shortly after its independence, it has become one of the countries that have ratified the fewest International Labour Organisation agreements on social security. Agreement 102, for which the assent was published in the Official Journal (n°6140 du 23 Joumada I 1434, 04 April 2013), has still not been deposited for ratification with the International Labour Organisation. As of 26 April 2018, Morocco ratified 62 International Labour Organization agreements (out of a total of 177), of which only 48 entered into force, 11 agreements were denounced and 3 were repealed. Over the last five years, Morocco has not ratified any agreements. Overall, Morocco has failed to sign 42 ILO technical agreements in the field of social protection.
Morocco has adopted a social protection system covering employees in both the private and public sectors. The protection covers all risks of life (illness, maternity, disability, old age, survival, death and unemployment). This scheme also aims at providing family allowances.
Two main insurance funds share the administration of the insurance system for employees. These are the:
- National Fund of Social Insurance Institutions
- National Health Insurance Fund
The latter is a public institution supervised by the Ministry of Labour and Professional Integration. It comprises local directorates and branches managing the health insurance system and de facto paying out benefits. It has also set up a network of health institutions, such as polyclinics. It takes care of all private life risks.
The medical care system (RAMED) for the most vulnerable in all regions of the Kingdom
The medical care system is designed to help the poorest population. It will cover people living in Morocco whose annual income does not exceed MAD 5650 per person and household in an urban environment, i.e. EUR 520. Factors relating to living conditions, taxable income and share of assets will clarify the eligibility of households in rural areas. (Articles 3 and 4 laid down in the joint decree of the government authorities of the Ministries of the Interior, Finance, Health and Agriculture, No 836-08 of 28 Ramadan 1429 - 29 September 2008).
The health care provided by RAMED is identical to the scope of health services provided by the public health service, but it can only be provided in state hospitals, institutions and health services.
Specifically, and without statistics on the needy, it is the middle elites, especially in rural areas, who draw up the names and contact details of the destitute sections of the population. Middle elites must be understood as gang leaders and amghars (two authorised intermediaries of the Ministry of the Interior). It is difficult nowadays to see the reality of medical care for the needy, but the political will has been reaffirmed time and again, as King Mohamed VI reminded us in his speech to the throne on 29 July 2020: „A rapid review of the social protection system, which is still characterised by a fragmentation of interventions, weak coverage and effectiveness... The time has come to launch the process of universal social security for all Moroccans over the next few years. We recommend that this project be implemented from January 2021, in accordance with a specific action programme. This should initially focus on universal compulsory health insurance (AMO) and family allowances. It will then be extended to other social insurance schemes, such as pensions and unemployment“.
At the time these lines are written, there is talk of putting the RAMED in the archives of history in order to propose another alternative of social security for the whole population of Morocco.
Finally: rural areas still far removed from public policy
In conclusion, it seems to us that rural areas remain a weak point because they suffer from a lack of integration. The social landscape is characterised by a public policy investment gap, characterised by creeping illiteracy, which mainly affects women: more than 50% of women in rural areas receive insufficient schooling. Agricultural self-sufficiency, the main occupation of private households, remains dependent on climate fluctuations; hospitals are hardly integrated into rural development plans, and the rural population lacks information about their rights for efficient health care. It seems that public policies are giving way to a system of mutual support within the family, with a kind of mechanical solidarity, as described by Emile Durkheim (1893).
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Professor of Sociology
Editor of the journal Esprit Critique
Internationa Journal for Sociology and Social Science
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 Belongs to the descent from the time of the prophet.
 Gellner E. (1961) The role and organisation of a berber zawya, Londres. And his translation: Gellner, Ernest (2003). Les saints de l’Atlas. Paris : Bouchène Verlag, Koll. « L’intérieur du Maghreb ». This conservative anthropological theory rejects any change made by the acting individual …
 The Moroccan, who only feels comfortable when integrated into a community and feels helpless in an independent act, perceives power and authority above all as defensive, to protect and preserve rather than create or destroy…“, Waterbury, John (1975). Le Commandeur des croyants. La monarchie marocaine et son élite (französische Übersetzung aus dem Englischem Catherine Aubin) Paris : PUF.
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 Hessel, Stéphane (2010). (Empört Euch!) Indignez-vous ! IndigèneVerlag, Koll. « Ceux qui marchent contre le vent ». 32 Seiten
 The glass ceiling is an American expression that refers to the "invisible obstacles" to the promotion of women in hierarchical structures. It is an obstacle to the development of their career in a company and restricts their access to management positions.
 (1967). La légitimation du pouvoir au Maghreb : tradition, protestation et répression. Annuaire de l’Afrique du Nord, S. 411-423
Cite this publication
Labari, Brahim, 2021. Outline of a monograph on the social protection system in Morocco. In: socialnet International [online]. 2021-01-31 [Date of citation: 2022-09-26]. ISSN 2627-6348. Available from Internet: https://www.socialnet.de/international/papers/outline-of-a-monograph-on-the-social-protection-system-in-morocco.html