Let’s begin with a range of thoughtful considerations on ongoing (and past) crises. The latest issue of the IMF’s Fiscal Monitor includes a chapter with a plethora of estimated effects and lessons on social protection and labor market responses – including framed as automatic stabilizers, semi-automatic ones, discretionary responses, and delayed-discretionary measures (e.g., see figure 1.8, p.10). Among the takeaways, many are geared at preparedness – e.g., “job-retention schemes can become a more prominent part of the resilience toolkit for future crises, together with unemployment income support measures”; and “social safety nets can be scaled up quickly, but this requires preparatory work ahead of future crises”. Also loved the 27 pages of annex data!

Since I mentioned job retention, let’s dig into country evidence on the matter. A new paper by Kohler et al found that South Africa’s Temporary Employer Employee Relief Scheme – a wage subsidy reaching 5.7 million workers at a cost of $4 billion during the pandemic – increased the chances of remaining employed by 16 percentage points in the short-term (with larger effects among lower-wage workers).

More on Southern Africa: what do we know about the electoral politics of transfers, whether in cash or-kind? A paper on Malawi by Duchoslav et al tackles the question from a humanitarian perspective. What did they find? During the 2015-16 humanitarian crisis, “[cash and food] transfers were used to persuade swing voters to support the ruling party rather than to mobilize the ruling party’s core voters”. But the strategy didn’t seem successful at bolstering votes for ruling party candidates.

Let’s move to MENA, where a report by ERF portrays a bleak macro picture for the region: between 2019 and 2022 debt-to-GDP ratios soared by 10-20 percentage points – now above 80% across the region (see for example the 3 debt sustainability assessment scenarios on table 2, p.8). Yet three ingredients could help pivot to a brighter path: “a proactive engagement by economic elites, a social movement based on broad sections of civil society, and political leadership”.

Bonus on a key reform theme: subsidies or transfers? A blog by Murthi et al lays out some key issues and opportunities for subsidy reforms.

News on climate and resilience issues? A crisp paper by Costella et al offers a handy framework identifying concepts and drivers of climate change, and mechanisms (and implications) for how social protection can affect it (see for example table 1, p.6). Bonus: WFP has two country reports on the impacts of its programs on resilience in the Sahel, including in Mali and Niger.

What about health? New preliminary evidence on universal cash transfers and health: in Alaska, Guettabi and Witman estimate that the annual UBI payment (which is equal to roughly 6% of average income) had no effects on use of prescription medications among people with employer-based health insurance (or approximately 55% of the population).

And to conclude… podcasts! The latest episode of Roelen’s Poverty Unpacked podcast features Chen and Haque discussing poverty graduation; and Sharpe hosts a conversation on social protection and fisheries with Kalikoski, Salazar, Mathew, and Veras.

 

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
        • Unconditional cash transfers
      • In kind transfers
        • Nutritional programmes
        • School feeding programmes
    • Subsidies
  • Labour market / employment programmes
    • Active labour market programmes / Productive inclusion
      • Employment / Wage subsidies
      • Public works programmes
Social Protection Building Blocks: 
  • Policy
    • Expenditure and financing
    • Laws and Policies
  • Programme design
    • Benefits design
  • Programme implementation
    • Benefits payment / delivery
  • Programme performance / impact analysis
Social Protection Approaches: 
  • Adaptive social protection
  • Political economy
  • Programme graduation
  • Shock-responsive social protection
  • Social protection systems
  • Universal Social Protection
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Agriculture and rural development
  • Climate change
  • Consumption and expenditure
  • Food and nutritional security
  • Health
    • COVID-19
  • Inequalities
  • Poverty reduction
  • Productive / Economic inclusion
  • Resilience
Countries: 
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Niger
  • South Africa
  • United States
Regions: 
  • Global
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • North America
  • South Asia
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
The views presented here are the author's and not socialprotection.org's