A big graph for the “big push” approach: can graduation programs work for women in fragile states? Results from a new paper by Bedoya et al show that, after one year from completion, a package of transfers and assets in Afghanistan generated very positive impacts. Among them, consumption goes up by 30%, while poverty rate among beneficiaries feel from 82 to 62%. And what about the program internal rate of return? About 26%!

Another article by Roelen and Leon-Himmelstine investigates children’s wellbeing in Burundi during and after participation in a graduation model program using a longitudinal mixed‐methods approach. The program, which started in 2013 and ended in 2015, is found to improve child welfare particularly in relation to housing, food security and education.

The power of program connections! A new JDE paper by Tohari et al estimates that the Unified Database in Indonesia improved eligibility & participation in multiple programs substantially – i.e., the chance of participating in 3 core programs (BLT, Raskin and Jamkesmas) rose by 117%, and expenditures among those participants increased by 30%.

Who said that vote-buying needs to be in cash? An EDCC article by Cantu uses data from the 2012 presidential election in Mexico and shows how one of the parties distributed gift cards to be used in local supermarkets in exchange for support on election day (open access version here). More on politics in the region: Carrion has an UNRISD paper on the political economy of domestic resource mobilization in Nicaragua.

Moving north in the continent, the Earned Income Tax Credit in the US works but has many limits, like being restricted to formal sector workers and making annual payments. Can these constraints be addressed? A new Urban Institute paper by Maag et al discusses a new proposal, the Cost of Living Refund by the Economic Security Project, to modify the EITC benefit structure by increasing the amounts of cash provided, expanding eligibility for the credit, and paying the credit in advance via monthly payments. And speaking of ‘expanded’ programs, Acemoglu lays out his thinking on ‘why UBI is a bad idea’.

Last week I shared the OECD paper on the channels and impacts of social protection on economic growth. The theme is this week enriched by a new IPC-IG working paper by Paiva and Varella providing an excellent literature review – I really liked the crisp Annex on p.44-45 laying out hypotheses and facts side by side on key themes (e.g., savings, migration, fertility, etc.).

But what do we know about the performance of social protection systems as a whole? The multi-agency ISPA Core Diagnostic Instrument (CODI) is now being used in about 22 countries, including recent applications in Lebanon, the Philippines, and Guatemala. Watch the recording from yesterday’s online event discussing those countries’ assessments and featuring Bastagli, Avalos, Wodsak, Cintron and Lopez.

Two interesting pieces on technology: Devarajan in a Brookings blog and Cangiano et al in a CGD policy paper sing a similar, albeit not identical, song on tech being a helpful means to pursue a more complicated end. And on the humanitarian front, GSMA released a paper on core issues with mobile money in crises (check out also their operational handbook for mobile money providers).

Speaking of which… anything new on resilience? Rhetorical question, of course. Dahir and Peachey lay out 6 key points to strengthen the drought response in Somalia, while Yoshikawa has a report on the CaLP-Asia Pacific regional working group learning event.

Relatedly, how did the Ebola pandemic affect welfare in West Africa? De la Fuente et al walk us through the basic shock-welfare transmission mechanisms: the pandemic reduced group labor mobilization for planting and harvest, which in turn reduced rice area planted and rice yields, which led to declined household welfare and expenditures.

Let’s end on a high note: this year’s Kellogg Prize for Lifetime Achievements in International Nutrition goes to IFPRI’s Marie Ruel, a much-deserved recognition to an exceptional leader and great colleague.


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
  • Social insurance
    • Old-age pension
  • Labour market / employment programmes
    • Passive labour market policies
      • Unemployment benefits
Social Protection Building Blocks: 
  • Programme implementation
  • Programme design
    • Targeting
Social Protection Approaches: 
  • Programme graduation
  • Social protection systems
  • Universal Social Protection
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Education
  • Gender
  • Poverty reduction
  • Resilience
  • Burundi
  • Somalia
  • Guatemala
  • Afghanistan
  • Lebanon
  • Philippines
  • East Asia & Pacific
The views presented here are the author's and not socialprotection.org's