One of the many free daycare centers in Teheran

Iran's Fifth Plan has been described as a "welfare plan", because social affairs accounted for a verv large proportior (21 per cent) of Government spending. Economic affairs with 34 per cent of total credits and defence, with 31 pe cent, admittedly accounted for even larger shares, but the strong emphasis on social welfare in the revised Fifth Plan, as compared to the Fourth Plan, certainly justified this description.

Within the overall social affair sector, welfare played a very large paritalmost equal to that of health. Social security and welfare programmes absorb edover $800 million in the 1976-77 budget year alone.

But this does not mean that lran was to become a "welfare state" in the accepted sense of this term. While top priority continued to be given to public health, improved medical services (through a low cost nation-wide insurance network) and an overall expansion of social services, it was not the intention that the Government should shoulder all responsibility and expense in these fields. The Government's welfare philosophy was summed up by the Prime Minister in presenting the 1976-77 Budget bill in these words: "Every individual, whether a member of the urban or the rural population, whether employed in agriculture, industry or the services, must realize that a desirable welfare system is directly dependent on the effort he makes to increase his income by working longer or better. The more the public participates, the healthier and stronger the economy, society and welfare programmes will be."

Social security in Iran began in 1930 with a decree insuring all worker against accidents at work resulting in disability or death. In 1953 a Workers Insurance law was enacted which provided medicare coverage, sickness and disablement benefits, marriage and maternity grants, pensions and family al owances. In 1974 the Social lnsurance Organization was replaceel by the Social Security Organization, with wider responsibilities, and the Ministry of Social Welfare was formed. Hitherto social welfare had been the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour. Social welfare became the responsibility of the amalgamated Ministry of Health an Welfare. In 1975 the Social Security lav~~ came into force. It provided more substantial benefits financed from a contribution equal to 30 per cent of the insured person's earnings, 7 per cent of which is paid by the insured, 20 per cent by the employer and 3 per cent by the Government. By the end of 1975 over 1.5 million individuals were covered by social security legislation, or over six million if dependants were included. The Fifth Plan target was to increase coverage to 14 million persons, including dependants, and to raise the total by the end of the Sixth Plan (1983) to the entire active population.