Having “patience” is very important during these tumultuous days… and as it turns out, we also need patience for detecting program impact! In Pakistan, Iqbal et al find that after 2 years of implementation, there was no significant impact of BISP cash transfers on women’s empowerment; however, after 5-8 years BISP generated substantial impact on women’s mobility and voting behavior. Biometric payments also helped women to go outside home and control over cash. Yet milder impacts are observed on intrahousehold decision-making and intimate partner violence.

More on longer-term impacts, this time moving South-East! Cahyadi et al find that after 6 years of implementing the PKH conditional cash transfers program in Indonesia, childbirths using trained professionals grew substantially, stunting declined by 23%, and the number of children out of school was halved. But cant’s have it all… and the paper finds no impact on family employment nor assets.

Speaking of nutrition… Gilligan et al present quantitative evidence from Ethiopia’s SNNP region combining cash transfers with an integrated package of multisectoral nutrition services. On the benefits side, the program (i) increased the probability of attending ante and postnatal care sessions; (ii) children vaccinations, treatment of malnutrition, and school attendance soared; (iii) multisectoral collaboration among social workers, health extension workers, and school officials was enhanced; and (iv) PSNP-linked behavioral change sessions held at public works sites were successful. What challenges arose? (i) Social and health workers were understaffed and overburdened with reporting requirements; (ii) patchy access to implementation manuals; (iii) hiccups with the new management information system; and (iv) the transition from public works to unconditional transfers for caregivers of malnourished children often failed.

From nutrition to food… ration shops can sound old-fashioned. But are they effective? A paper by Gadenne finds that in India, these rationing mechanisms can improve overall welfare by taxing richer people, increase consumption of people in the lowest segments of the distribution, and stabilize prices of basic commodities.

And for Asia to Africa! Carraro and Ferrone found that the Lesotho Child Grant Programme reduced the incidence and intensity of multidimensional deprivation for children living in labor-constrained, female-headed households that experienced shocks of various nature; Bacil and Silva apply their new coverage measurement toolkit to examine coverage of social protection in Sudan (see also the executive summary and one-pager); and in Rwanda, Williams et al argue that the VUP cash transfer program tended to prioritize productive as opposed to protective functions, e.g., households classified as non-poor are selected for public works and non-creditworthy participants are pressured to take loans in order to meet program targets.

And then up to the Middle East… with so much gold in the new report on Jordan’s social protection scale-up by UNICEF and GoJ! Among the most interesting parts, I really liked p.13 on Takaful’s rapid scale up from to 92k households in 2018 to the planned 177k in 2021 next year; p.16’s handy timeline of Covid responses; p.18 visualizing the structure of the Social Protection Response Committee; and p.24 illustrating how many (70%) of Himmat Watan Fund payments went to financing social assistance sector (h/t Manuel Rodriguez Pumarol).

Let me continue on the crisis thread, with some interesting humanitarian resources: CARE issued its guidance on gender equality in cash and vouchers assistance; Tholstrup and Jodar reflect on whether cash is transforming the humanitarian system or is the system limiting how cash is used; and McCormack lays out 4 systemic changes needed to ensure quality in humanitarian cash-based assistance.

Hopping back to national social protection, Schanzenbach and Strain trace the effects of the Earned Income Tax Credit program in the US since 1975. Examining their various federal and state-level expansions and reforms, they find among others that a $1,000 increase in the size of the maximum credit is associated with a 2.9 to 3.3 percentage point increase in employment among unmarried mothers with low levels of education.

What do UBI and Bruce Lee have in common? Santens makes the case for basic income as “liquid infrastructure”, while Ndemo reflects on whether UBI can improve employability.

Speaking of universality… the International Social Security Review has a special issue on “social security, inclusive growth and social cohesion” – check out McKinnon’s introductory article to the issue, as well as discussion of social protection in relation to revenue collection by Burchi et alsocial assistance and growth by Barrientos and Malerba; and Qian on China’s Covid response (plus Razavi et al on social cohesion as shared last week).

Informality is hard to overcome: Rizky et al shows that in Indonesia, almost half of individuals who started out as a low-tier informal worker remained so through the next 8–19 years; and in India, Gang and Natarajan find that financial access is key in promoting entrepreneurship among informal sector firms. BTW, Sheha discusses when RCTs are appropriate for informing decision-making in the Indian context.

Some specific Covid-related effects! Meekes et al show that in the Netherlands, single-parent essential workers experience relatively large negative labor supply effects from Covid-19, suggesting that government’s emergency childcare was not sufficient for this group; a paper by O’Driscoll et al examines Covid-related, age-specific mortality across 45 countries; and a report by Development Initiatives suggests that the pandemic has heighted the need for accelerating ODA growth to the poorest countries.

Final kiosk announcement: Give Directly opened up a position for Research Director (plus other vacancies can be found here) (h/t Cristina Sharpe).


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 helps 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
    • Subsidies
      • Food subsidies
Social Protection Topics: 
  • Coverage
  • Universal Social Protection
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Food and nutritional security
  • Gender
  • Health
    • Child health
    • Maternal health
  • Global
  • Global
The views presented here are the author's and not socialprotection.org's