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1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty. Billions risk slipping into poverty due to shocks – both systemic (natural disasters, economic crises) and specific (such as job losses or illness). Well-designed modern social protection systems are proven to be both effective and efficient at lowering current and future poverty, and to be flexible enough to buffer both systemic and specific shocks.

Today, more than 150 million people have escaped extreme poverty thanks to social protection alone. Direct social transfers reduce immediate poverty and also help people exit poverty by building capabilities (incentivizing investments in education, health, and nutrition) and allowing investment in productive assets and activities. Inequality is also reduced by pensions, unemployment insurance, disability allowances, and the like, cushioning people from impoverishing shocks, and by allowing them better returns to work because of well-designed labor market policies.

The World Bank Group is the largest provider of development finance and solutions for social protection, working with high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries to develop country-tailored solutions for specific social protection challenges. These range from increasing the efficiency with which social resources are spent (where well-designed social safety net programs, reformed pension reforms, and integrated social protection systems are proven solutions), to improving employment outcomes through employability programs and associated policy reforms, often most effective when targeted at the poor or the young.

The Social Protection & Labor Global Practice (SPL GP) delivers operational approaches and evidence-based solutions to help individuals and families manage risk, cope with chronic/transitional poverty, and access better livelihoods and jobs. These include:

  • Strategy, analysis, financing and design of programs delivering social safety nets/social assistance in the form of cash transfers, public works programs, and fee waivers.
  • Advisory and analytical services on design and delivery of contributory transfers (including old-age pensions, unemployment insurance, disability and survivor benefits), and their fiscal sustainability (including budget support for transitions).
  • Analysis, design and delivery of labor market and youth employment programs (with a focus on supply side interventions and intermediation policies), as well as policy advice on labor market regulations and interventions.
  • Strategy, analysis, financing and design of integrated social protection delivery systems (e.g., payments, identification, registries, systems assessments) as underpinnings of effective social programs that can help cope with climatic shocks or underpin fiscal reforms.