Publication: Can Public Works Programs Help the Poor During Crises?
Economic crises can be particularly arduous for poor and vulnerable people. In particular, job losses stemming from economic downturns undercut the ability of more vulnerable households to support themselves. Public works programs, which help sustain poor households through temporary employment, are one method used by governments to lessen the impacts of crises. The World Bank is focused on helping countries end poverty. Key to this knows which programs do and do not yield tangible results. To help policymakers assess the effectiveness of Latvia's public works program, the World Bank supported an evaluation of the government-sponsored public works initiative, which was launched in response to the global financial crisis of 2008-2010. The evaluation found that the program successfully reached its intended target, helping Latvia's worst-off cope with the crisis by increasing their short-term incomes. For policymakers and development experts, this evaluation underscores the usefulness of public works programs as emergency social safety net instruments even in upper-middle income countries.
Link to Data Set
“World Bank. 2013. Can Public Works Programs Help the Poor During Crises?. From evidence to policy;. © Washington, DC. http://hdl.handle.net/10986/17050 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”
Other publications in this report series
PublicationKenya: Can Scripted Schooling Improve Learning?(Washington, DC, 2022-10)Before the COVID pandemic, more than half of children in low and middle-income countries suffered from learning poverty: they either were out of school or failed to learn to read with comprehension by age 10. At the same time, numerous studies have documented serious challenges related to the quality of education services, particularly for those serving poor students. In a country like Kenya, for example, teachers exhibit low levels of content and pedagogical knowledge. Previous research has shown that highly structured teaching guides could improve literacy, but scripted lessons are not without critics, who worry that teachers will not be able to adapt content to student’s needs. In places where teachers may be less prepared to tailor high quality lessons to their students, however, scripting may offer a way to standardize a minimum level of quality at scale.
PublicationRwanda: Can Parenting Programs Improve Child Development and Prevent Violence Against Women and Children?(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-11)Children need a safe, nurturing, healthy, and stimulating environment to thrive and reach their full potential. But millions of children living in poverty don’t receive enough stimulation or good nutrition in their first years of life, and poverty also makes them more likely to experience neglect and violence in the home. Domestic violence, however, is rarely addressed in programs promoting young children’s development, which also typically focus on mothers, with little attention on fathers. Previous research suggests home-based parenting programs can lead to positive improvements in children’s brain development. Can these programs be adapted to address family violence as well Can these services be effectively delivered through government social safety net programs which often target poor, vulnerable families
PublicationIndia: Can We Make Parenting Programs More Cost-Effective?(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-07)In the first years of life, all children need healthy food, a clean environment, and stimulation to thrive and reach their full developmental potential. However, poverty prevents millions of young children in low- and middle-income countries from receiving adequate nutrition and stimulation. As a result, many disadvantaged children’s brain development lags behind that of their well-off peers, which can have lifelong consequences. Previous research from low-income settings has found that encouraging parents to play and interact more with their children can improve children’s brain development, with impacts that can last into adulthood. Delivering these parenting programs at scale and in a cost-effective manner, however, has been a challenge, in part because some of the most successful programs have been delivered through intensive and relatively costly home-based programs.
PublicationArmenia: Increasing Preventive Screening for Non-Communicable Diseases in Armenia(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-04)More people around the world are dying from noncommunicable diseases than ever before. These diseases, which include cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, and heart disease, prematurely kill more than 15 million people between ages 30 and 69 each year. Many of these health conditions also make individuals more susceptible to severe forms of other diseases like Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This study targeted adults between the ages of 35 and 68 in Armenia who had not been screened in the preceding year. The baseline data suggests this population was not economically secure: half of participants responded that their income was sufficient for basic family needs, such as food, clothing, and utilities, but not enough for big purchases like a car, while 35 percent responded that their income is sufficient for everyday food but not for clothes and other basic needs. More than half of those in the study were unemployed. This research finds that conditional incentives and personalized invitations can substantially increase screening for diabetes and hypertension for those who haven’t been recently screened. Further research may be needed to evaluate these interventions at scale.
PublicationRwanda: Can Performance Pay for Teachers Improve Students’ Learning?(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-01)Performance pay for teachers generates debate. Proponents argue that many school systems have low levels of accountability and advocate incentivizing teachers by linking their pay to either their own efforts or their students’ learning. Critics, however, raise concerns that performance pay attracts people to the teaching workforce who are in it for the money and can diminish the intrinsic motivation to teach among teachers already in classrooms.