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The political economy of social protection


The Academy on Social Security is organised by the International Training Centre of the ILO. It runs this year from 16 – 27 September. Stephen Kidd, Senior Social Policy Specialist at Development Pathways, is leading two modules exploring the politics behind designing social programmes and the implementation of inclusive social protection schemes.

During his presentation, Stephen Kidd, asked participants what the best way to help the “poor” is, as Development Pathways has pointed out in the political economy of targeted social security schemes. Compared to poverty-targeting schemes, inclusive social security transfers are not only much more effective in reaching those living in poverty but also more fiscally sustainable for governments. They are less likely to lose funding due to often broad public support for these programmes. Ultimately it is inclusive schemes, rather than targeted programmes, that help create more equitable societies.

This is backed up by recent evidence on the effectiveness of different poverty targeting methods. In our research, we considered the effectiveness of 38 programmes across 23 low- and middle-income countries, including means-tested schemes and schemes using proxy means testing, community-based targeting, self-targeted and pension testing. The findings point to the ineffectiveness of poverty-targeted social protection, with only one of the programmes using this selection method reaching over half of the poorest 20 per cent of the households it is targeted at. Thus, the evidence clearly shows that universal schemes were the most effective in reaching both their intended recipients and the poorest 20 per cent of people within their intended categories.

As such, two key factors underpin the successful implementation of social protection schemes, one the one hand, the simplicity and on the other, the level of investment. Firstly, the simpler the scheme, the easier it is to implement. For example, universal schemes offered to all children are not only cheaper to administer, but also easier to monitor and manage than schemes with narrow selection criteria or conditions. Secondly, the level of investment in the administration of a scheme has an impact on the quality of implementation.

Where can you learn more about inclusive social protection? Our five-day training course in Naivasha, Kenya is a place to start. There’s still time to register. We are excited to announce that, due to high demand, we have added ten more spots for the training course! They will be filled on a first come, first serve basis so early registration is highly recommended.

Our course makes the case for inclusive social protection, with in-depth, interactive sessions led by global experts in the social protection field. It is designed to provide participants with the tools to effectively advocate for increased investment in these schemes. Meet our trainers including Stephen Kidd. His course modules topics range from the understanding of different approaches to social protection to building a disability-inclusive social protection system. Learn more about our course and modules on our website.

Photo was taken by Charles Knox-Vydmanov, International Training Centre at ILO


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