Icon Our WorkMulti-tiered child benefit systems for universal coverage

There is potential in many countries for building multi-tiered child benefit systems that achieve universal coverage of child benefits through a combination of social insurance and tax-financed instruments. At the February 2019 Universal Child Grant conference in Geneva, Development Pathways’ Senior Social Policy Specialist Shea McClanahan emphasised the appeal of this so-called ‘coordinated mixed’ approach — especially for those low- and middle-income countries that are investing in growing their social insurance systems. In the presentation, she asks whether there are alternative policy arrangements, other than universal tax-financed child benefits, that can achieve universal coverage, and highlights that while social insurance is a potential solution, currently the cost of enrolling in social insurance is experienced as a welfare loss to households and acts as a steep deterrent for people working in the informal economy. She therefore proposes a multi-tiered child benefit as a policy that would have the potential to build on, and even grow, existing social insurance systems while at the same time both offering a simpler and fairer alternative to poverty-targeting, through benefits-testing, and guaranteeing an adequate benefit for all children.