Nations in the Middle East and North Africa have traditionally seen the primary function of social policy as serving the goal of economic growth. But the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for a more balanced approach to make societies more resilient, with social protection policies that provide citizens with basic security throughout their lives. Beyond cash transfer programs and other emergency measures, governments should recognize the need for universal provision of health care and other essential assistance. Otherwise they risk leaving the Arab Spring’s popular demands for dignity unheeded.

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