The increasing role the World Bank and the IMF play in shaping national social protection policies is under the spotlight in a new Bretton Woods Project publication written by our Senior Social Policy Specialist Stephen Kidd.
The paper highlights how social protection comprises a significant share of World Bank loans, reaching almost 10 per cent of lending to low-income countries in 2017, while around 10 per cent of IMF loans include conditionality linked to social protection. The claims from both organisations that their approaches to social protection are ‘pro-poor’ and progressive is questioned by the paper. It cites a wealth of evidence from a number of contexts that the majority of those living in poverty are likely to be excluded as a result of their policy advice, that programmes it has supported have even made people poorer, reducing per capita consumption.
Stephen Kidd concludes that the institutions’ opposition to popular, inclusive schemes backed by national politicians not only fails the ‘pro-poor’ test, it is dangerous. “Both institutions may, ultimately, undermine democracy while weakening economic growth and national social cohesion, a dangerous tactic in an increasingly uncertain world”.