The literature in this area emphasises the need for donors to support developing country governments in the design and implementation of social protection schemes, as the programmes need to be tailored to the needs of each country (Mathers and Slater, 2014; OECD, 2009).
Mathers, N. and Slater, R. (2014). Social Protection and Growth: Research Synthesis. London: Overseas Development Institute.
This review paper evaluates a range of academic and practitioner literature with the aim of identifying the channels through which social protection policies impact growth and productivity. The authors find that the literature demonstrates that social protection is a key instrument for promoting inclusive growth, and can contribute marginally to aggregate growth. The impact of social protection is particularly strong at the micro, or household level, where it can play an important role in limiting the use of negative coping strategies, such as removing children from school to work, or selling important assets. Further, social protection policies can have a multiplier effect at a local level by enabling increased consumption and improved labour market outcomes. It is noted that there is substantial evidence to show that social protection in low and middle income countries does not lead to dependency (i.e. less labour market participation or productivity). Regarding design and implementation of social protection programmes, the authors highlight that identifying the most appropriate type, size and duration of transfers will be key, as well as ensuring that transfers are long term and predictable.
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OECD. (2009). Promoting Pro-Poor Growth: Social Protection. Paris: OECD
This report highlights the fundamental contribution of social protection – defined as social insurance, social transfers and minimum labour standards – in promoting pro-poor growth. It argues that social protection not only protects the poorest and most vulnerable from crises, natural disasters and the effects of climate change, but also stimulates pro-poor growth by enabling poor households to invest in productive activities and human capital. Studies have shown that social protection is affordable even for low-income countries, and the report notes that costs can be managed by starting with a limited programme and scaling up once more resources are available and impact has been demonstrated. A rights-based approach to social protection which seeks to address vulnerability throughout a citizen’s lifetime is advocated, and it is noted that effective social protection frameworks will require a comprehensive list of instruments which appropriately address coverage and targeting. Finally, the authors note the central role of donors in supporting the capacity of governments in planning, financing, delivering and monitoring social protection programmes.
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For further resources, see the GSDRC topic guide on Social Protection (Browne, 2015).