Download the paper, Country SP COVID responses_May1!

As of today, a total of 159 countries (8 more since last week) have planned, introduced or adapted 752 social protection measures in response to COVID-19. This is over a triple in the number of countries and an eight-fold increase in measures since the first edition of this living paper (March 20). This week’s new entries include Congo, Dominica, Gambia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Turks and Caicos, and Tuvalu.

Cash transfers include a mix of both new and pre-existing programs of various duration and generosity. Cash transfers include 244 COVID-related measures representing one-third (32.4%) of total COVID-related social protection programs. About 59% of cash transfer measures (122 out of 207) are new programs in 89 countries, while one-fourth of measures (26%) are one-off payments. The average duration of transfers is 2.9 months. The size of transfers is relatively generous, or 25% of monthly GDP per capita in respective countries. On average, transfers increased by 88% compared to average pre-COVID transfer levels (where data is available for a subset of 14 countries). 

Social assistance is being adapted in three ways. This includes expanding coverage, increasing benefits, and making administrative requirements simpler and more user-friendly. Combined, those adaptations in social assistance benefit over 1.48 billion people (individuals). Specifically, for cash transfers administrative adaptations are occurring in 27 countries. Their coverage extension is underway in 87 countries: this includes expanding coverage of existing programs (7 countries) and providing new programs in, as mentioned, 89 countries. Combined, those adaptations across administration, generosity and coverage in cash transfers benefit over 1.06 billion people. If we only consider coverage (horizontal expansion) of new and existing cash transfer schemes, these cover an estimated 566.5 million people.

Cash transfer programs are more than doubling in coverage, including an average of 143% in scale up levels. Preliminary analysis for a subset of cash transfer programs with comparable data allowed to estimate the scale up of programs relative to pre-COVID19 levels. Countries like the Philippines and El Salvador are quadrupling their coverage (in the case of Philippines also via multiple new programs), while even countries in Africa like Mauritania are almost doubling coverage.

In terms of social insurance, there has been a remarkable uptick in measures recently – now breaking the ceiling of 200 measures. Gustavo Demarco, guest co-author for this edition, provides us with an overview of key issues and trends in social insurance in COVID-response

Labor market interventions remain a key area of action. Wage subsidies continue to dominate those interventions, including accounting for over half of the LM portfolio. Our guest co-author Indhira Santos explores the variety of ways in which those subsidies are being implemented across countries, as well as broader issues in the world of labor market COVID interventions.

What is the full level of investment going into social protection COVID-19 response? Our preliminary estimates indicate a level slightly higher than half-trillion (567 billion) in US dollars. Social assistance spending equals $539 billion, $488 of which in HICs. For the moment, LIC are investing $247 million in social assistance, while MICs about $50 billion ($23 billion of which in India). Defined in these terms, the overall global volume of social protection response to COVID-19 is 0.6% of global GDP (nearly $85 trillion).

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 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.

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Social Protection Programmes: 
  • Social assistance
    • Social transfers
      • Cash transfers
  • Social insurance
  • Labour market / employment programmes
    • Active labour market programmes / Productive inclusion
      • Employment / Wage subsidies
Social Protection Building Blocks: 
  • Policy
    • Coverage
  • Programme implementation
    • Benefits payment / delivery
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Health
  • Humanitarian assistance
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Gambia
  • Mauritania
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Dominica
  • El Salvador
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Philippines
  • Tuvalu
The views presented here are the author's and not's