Social Safety Nets Primer

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This series is intended to provide a practical resource for those engaged in the design and implementation of safety net programs around the world. Readers will find information on good practices for a variety of types of interventions, country contexts, themes and target groups, as well as current thinking on the role of social safety nets in the broader development agenda.

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How to Make Public Works Work : A Review of the Experiences

2009-09, del Ninno, Carlo, Milazzo, Annamaria

Public work programs (PWPs) have been an important safety nets instrument used in diverse country circumstances at different points in time in both middle income and low income countries. Well-designed and implemented PWPs can help mitigating income shocks; the programs can also be used to reduce poverty. This paper reviews the experience with PWPs in several countries over the past 20 years to delineate use patterns and to determine the factors contributing to its use as a successful safety net program. This is done by reviewing cross-country variations in the design, implementation procedures and delivery models followed by an assessment of methods for monitoring and evaluation specific to public works.

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A New Approach to Social Assistance: Latin America’s Experience with Conditional Cash Transfer Programs

2004-01, Rawlings, Laura B.

Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) are an innovative and increasingly popular approach to social assistance. They provide money to poor families contingent upon certain behavior, usually investments in human capital such as keeping children in school or taking them to health centers on a regular basis. These programs are perhaps the clearest policy manifestation of a new line of thinking on the long-term role of social assistance programs. Not only are they instruments for short-term poverty alleviation, but they also encompass longer-term economic growth and human capital development objectives. They have been adopted internationally and in several countries they have been scaled up to become integral components of poverty alleviation strategies.

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Strengthening Public Safety Nets from the Bottom Up

2003-01, Weigand, Christine

Public safety nets in developing countries address the vulnerability of the poor and the near-poor to income disruption, but such formal programs do not operate in a vacuum. Private and informal mechanisms may already exist. The design of public interventions requires a clear understanding of what mechanisms are already available and how (and to what extent) individuals and households use them to cope with income fluctuations. This note surveys some of those design considerations.

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Price and Tax Subsidies : Effectiveness and Challenges

2003-01, Mackintosh, Fiona, del Ninno, Carlo

Many governments use price and tax subsidization to meet social protection objectives. They endeavor to reduce the cost of living for their population-or for a subset of the population-by subsidizing the price of goods or services in lieu of, or in addition to, direct income transfers. While these subsidies may distort production incentives, subsidize the non-poor more than the poor, and limit consumer choice, there are reasons why a government may choose to use some forms of pricing policy rather than make income transfers to help the poor.

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High Labour Intensive (HIMO) Public Works in Madagascar : Issues and Policy Options

2008-12, Milazzo, Anna Maria

High labor intensive (HIMO) public work programs have been very popular in recent years in Madagascar. They have been one of the most common safety net program used to address poverty and vulnerability. The objective of these programs has been to provide income support to the poor in critical times, e.g. after natural disasters, or to respond to seasonal shortfalls in employment during the agricultural slack period (soudure), and to improve much needed local infrastructures. The Government has recently increased its commitment to assisting poor households to prevent, mitigate and cope with the consequences of these shocks. The poverty reduction strategy paper, presented by the Government in 2003, calls for a national strategy for social protection to address risks and vulnerabilities as a central challenge to reduce poverty and improve human capital in Madagascar. To supplement effective implementation of policies in the area of social protection, the Government developed a National Risk Management and Social Protection Strategy (NRMSPS) in 2007.

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Safety Nets in Transition Economies

2003-01, del Ninno, Carlo

Transition economies are commonly understood to be countries that have moved or are moving from a primarily state-planned to a market-based economic system with private ownership of assets and market-supporting institutions. These countries include those of the former Soviet Union, those of Eastern and Central Europe closely allied with the Soviet Union and those in Asia and Africa recently undergoing market transformations of various degrees, such as China, Mongolia and Vietnam.

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Assisting the Poor with Cash : Design and Implementation of Social Transfer Programs

2003-01, Blomquist, John, Mackintosh, Fiona

Cash transfers can be defined as the provision of assistance in the form of cash to the poor or those who face a probable risk, in the absence of the transfer, of falling into poverty. Cash transfers, broadly defined, can be given in the form of social assistance, insurance, near-cash tax benefits, and private transfers. This note focuses on government programs, recognizing that private transfers and public programs serve multiple objectives, of which social safety net protection is just one.

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Social Safety Nets in OECD Countries

2006-01, Tesliuc, Emil

The focus of the note is on non-contributory social programs for low-income households, or other vulnerable groups in OECD countries. These programs, typically referred to as social safety net (SSN) programs in developing countries, are labeled welfare programs in the US and social assistance programs in the European Union. This note covers 28 countries belonging to the OECD, and refers to an in depth review of SSN programs in the US and nine European Union countries prepared for a course on "Social Safety Nets in OECD Countries." The accompanying course materials have been developed by a team from the Urban Institute (for the US) and the University of Maastricht (for nine European Union countries). The material on US welfare policies also draws on Lindert (2005), and the review of reforms in OECD countries from Abt (2003).

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Food-Based Safety Nets and Related Programs

2003-01, Weigand, Christine

Food-based safety net programs provide food, either directly, or through instruments (such as food stamps or coupons) that may be used to purchase food. More generally, these programs serve a variety of purposes and are designed to ensure livelihoods, to increase purchasing power, or to relieve deprivation and improve nutritional status, perhaps through the direct provision of food.

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Impact Evaluation of Social Programs : A Policy Perspective

2003-01, Blomquist, John

Governments and donor organizations increasingly recognize that rigorous evaluations of public interventions should be part of the social policy decision-making process. Yet there is frequently a gap between the desire for information on the effectiveness of programs and an understanding of the potential and the limitations of evaluation tools. This note reviews the basic elements of good impact evaluations, identifies some of the political economy aspects that influence whether they are conducted, and explores ways to encourage use of evaluation.