What’s the latest on social protection for displaced Ukrainian populations? Our newly released global tracker (v.4) records 730 measures in 41 countries, representing a 41% increase relative to April. About 28% of measures include social assistance (cash transfers accounting for 11%), while social insurance and active labor market programs represent 1.2% and 11%, respectively. The bulk of support (57%) stems from “other measures” often provided as a “package” with social protection, including measures related to education, health, housing, and transportation. The review examines responses in four contexts, namely Ukraine, five neighboring countries, the rest of Europe, and other global measures. In Ukraine, there are 23 cash transfer programs. Available data show that such schemes cover 8.5 million people, with plans to reach an additional 3.3 million. About $3B are invested in both domestic and international cash transfers. On the humanitarian front, the Ukraine Cash Working Group, which comprises 4 UN agencies and 13 NGOs, distributed “multi-purpose cash assistance” to over 1.55 million people. There are 12 budget support programs, accounting for 10% of the total measures. At European level, 57 cash transfer programs are implemented. Most measures are provided within the multi-sectoral framework of the “Temporary Protective Directive”, which lays the broad parameters for assistance. Countries are accorded flexibility: for instance, the average cash transfer size is 46% of median income/expenditures, ranging from 133% to 6%. See Annex 5 for a country-by-country inventory of measures.

More on displacement: a report by the OECD shows that forcibly displaced populations have often access to social protection “on paper”, but not in practice. Really liked the discussion on enablers and challenges for including refugees and IDPs in social protection (p.47)… and check out the estimates on official development assistance: based on a pool of 12 countries, only 1.2% of ODA went to social protection in 2019, a level much lower than allocations for humanitarian aid. In DRC, humanitarian assistance is 83 times higher than support to social protection (h/t Eric Zapatero).

That’s not only on the theme! What happens if 10,000 refugees (and 5,000 people in host communities) get a one-off cash transfer of $1,000 per person? An evaluation of IDinsight and GiveDirectly in Kiryandongo (Uganda) reveals that after 2 years, cash increased assets, consumption, and earnings (control group are refugees that are yet to received cash).

From Uganda to Cameroon: in the last links edition, I shared a blog by Levine on integrating social protection and humanitarian assistance for displaced populations in Cameroon – check out now the full report by Levine et al. This comes as part of a three-country collection, also including case studies on Greece by Tramountanis and Levine and Colombia by Ham et al. The Greece report examines responses to 57,000 displaced people stranded in the country and found that coverage gaps when transitioning between systems left refugees worse off than asylum seekers (see also a blog by Tramountanis). The Colombia case study documents responses to displaced Venezuelans and argues that a key role was played by, among others, “… the government’s political will, strong and accepted coordination role and progressive overall policies”. Dedios et al also have a blog on using WhatsApp for collecting data on displaced Venezuelans (see also a presentation from the launch event).

Speaking of Venezuela, Rodriguez offers a rare look into the country’s social protection system, including Venezuela’s quasi universal cash transfers (“Carnet de la Patria”, initially working via QR codes and reaching 18.4 million people – see p.19) and various food assistance programs, such as commodity distributions by CLAP covering about half of the population as of last December (see figure 25, p.24).

Switching to another crisis, an article by Ebbinghaus et al analyzes public attitudes toward Covid responses in Germany. In particular, the authors illustrate how public opinions for programs like expanded unemployment insurance can vary over time, with strong support during the crisis and fading when the pandemic receded (h/t Mohamed Almenfi).

Continuing on Covid research, here is a duet of papers on the effects of cash transfers in the US, Brazil, and India! A report by the Federal Reserve analyzes cash transfers from the pandemic’s child tax credit program and shows they were mostly saved, invested on children, and used to pay for food, rent, utilities, and debt (the weights of such allocations change with income, with the richest consuming less and saving more, see table 6 and 7, p.20); the report also finds that among non-working adults, only 2% did not work because of fear of losing benefits (see table 10, p.23). In Brazil, Levy and Filho show that Auxilio Emergencial had a small but significant effect on women labor supply (by 3.4 percentage points). And a study by Makkar et al in cash transfers in India’s Bihar state estimates that “… [h]ouseholds that received cash transfers had a lower proportion of food insecurity (43.6%) compared with those who did not (49.7%)” (h/t Patrick Webb).

Bonus on the US: an interesting paper by Roll et al explores how the use of cash transfers by recipients changes based on alternative design parameters, like frequency of payments and their amount. For instance, increased payment amounts were positively associated with spending on economic-mobility oriented goals and durable goods consumption, while higher payment frequency was negatively associated with expenditures in those dimensions.

A similar question was examined in Mexico: a paper by Lopez-Ortega and Aguila compared the effects of a Mexican non-contributory (social) pension when disbursed monthly versus every two months. The evaluation, which was conducted in Yucatan, show that monthly payments led to lower difficulties in functional limitations and less receipt of help from family or relatives as compared to the bimonthly modality (h/t Charles Knox-Vydmanov).

Beyond design, what factors can affect the uptake of benefits? De Schutter’s report on “non-take-up” in social protection provides examples of how factors such as program awareness, information on application, cumbersome processes, an stigma can hamper access to programs available to eligible populations (h/t Alexandra Barrantes).

News on the global high prices-induced crisis? An analysis by Breisinger et al shows that inflation is raising the national poverty headcount rate in Kenya by 2.5 percentage points (those effects are 3.1 and 1.4 pp in rural and urban areas, respectively). This is equivalent to an additional 1.4 million people falling below the poverty line (see figure 3, panel b). Bonus: Di Giorgio et al dissect results from a public expenditure review and their implications for Kenya’s journey toward universal health coverage.

More un urban areas! The World Urban Forum took place this week in Poland: with its 17 sessions, the program is immense (wish there was a ‘search’ function!), have fun browsing the various themes, such as accelerating post Covid-19 recoveryleaving no one and no place behind, and the special urban crises events.

Final fireworks: a paper by Bargain examines the relationship between gender, income sources and intrahousehold resource allocation in Argentina and South Africa; and a Nature article by Tollefson discusses how “experiments could lift millions out of dire poverty” (h/t Christian Bodewig).


Ugo Gentilini is from the World Bank’s Social Protection & Jobs global practice. The Social Protection Links newsletter, issued every Friday, distills and discusses a selection of curated resources on the topic, from academic articles to podcasts. The blog is republished on socialprotection.org each week, offering knowledge on social protection to help you stay on top of it — succinctly, regularly and frequently. Previous editions can be found here. 

To sign up to the newsletter or share materials, you can contact Ugo by email ([email protected]), Twitter (@ugentilini) or LinkedIn.

Social Protection Programmes: 
  • Social assistance
    • Social transfers
      • Cash transfers
    • Tax credits / exemptions
  • Labour market / employment programmes
Social Protection Building Blocks: 
  • Policy
    • Coverage
  • Programme design
    • Targeting
  • Programme implementation
    • Outreach / communications and awareness
Social Protection Approaches: 
  • Digital social protection
  • Gender-sensitive social protection
  • Social Protection Floors
  • Social protection systems
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Consumption and expenditure
  • Gender
  • Health
    • COVID-19
  • Inequalities
  • Migration
  • Poverty reduction
  • Resilience
  • Cameroon
  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • Uganda
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • United States
  • Venezuela
  • India
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ukraine
  • Global
The views presented here are the author's and not socialprotection.org's