Social protection is not always beneficial and popular. A way of predicting whether a programme will have positive impacts and be supported by voters is to identify whether it falls into a ‘charity paradigm’ or a ‘citizenship paradigm,’ argues Senior Social Protection Specialist Stephen Kidd in a new paper.
Those designing social protection schemes who work within a citizenship paradigm build inclusive, lifecycle systems where exclusion is minimised and political support is maximised. Those adhering to a charity paradigm, in contrast, seek to reserve scheme transfers to those they characterise as the ‘extreme poor’, and therefore exclude the majority of a nation’s citizens and even those in the ‘poorest’ category. The fact they are not meant to be accessed by most people – and everybody is susceptible to lifecycle shocks such as illness and caring responsibilities – leads to such schemes being politically unpopular.
The paper outlines examples of schemes in the two categories from around the world and considers how the values of their transfers and their impacts on poverty differ. It points to how even low-income nations can and have started to move from a charity paradigm to a citizenship paradigm by investing at least one per cent of GDP in inclusive schemes that everybody can access at the times of their lives when they need support.
Kidd comments, in a plea to the IMF and the World Bank, who he argues promote a charity approach to social protection: “Can you please examine the evidence on social protection impartially and objectively and consider whether your promotion of rationing sanctions, low investment and poor quality poor relief programmes is really the most effective means of helping countries achieve social, economic and political success?”
The intervention comes after the IMF last month urged action to tackle inequality, while highlighting the low redistributive impact of transfers in most developing economies.