Country Listing

Libya Table of Contents




A health care center in Benghazi
Courtesy United Nations

Social Welfare

A government advertisement appearing in an international publication in 1977 asserted that the Libyan social security legislation of 1973 ranked among the most comprehensive in the world and that it protected all citizens from many hazards associated with employment. The social security program instituted in 1957 had already provided protection superior to that available in many or most developing countries, and in the 1980s the welfare available to Libyans included much more than was provided under the social security law: work injury and sickness compensation and disability, retirement, and survivors' pensions. Workers employed by foreign firms were entitled to the same social security benefits as workers employed by Libyan citizens.

Subsidized food, inexpensive housing, free medical care and education, and profit-sharing were among the benefits that eased the lives of all citizens. The government protected the employed in their jobs and subsidized the underemployed and unemployed. In addition, there were nurseries to care for the children of working mothers, orphanages for homeless children, and homes for the aged. The welfare programs had reached even the oasis towns of the desert, where they reportedly were received with considerable satisfaction. The giving of alms to the poor remained one of the pillars of the Islamic faith, but the extent of public welfare was such that there was increasingly less place for private welfare. Nonetheless, the traditional Arab sense of family responsibility remained strong, and provision for needy relatives was still a common practice.

Data as of 1987