As the year is coming to an end, it’s a great moment to reflect on the impressive amount and quality of social protection publications produced over the past 12 months. For example, since January this weekly newsletter reviewed and shared around 750 titles on the theme – a fitting testament to the salience of social protection globally and the careful empirical scrutiny that the topic received.

Yet, such volume of publications makes it challenging to select “papers of the year”. Rather than laying out my personal ranking like in 20202019 and 2018, this year was time for something new: so I asked 33 global social protection thinkers for a couple among their favorite papers of 2021. The collection is not meant to be an exhaustive compilation, but to rather offer a nimble source of learning, inspiration and sharing as availed by a vibrant community of researchers and practitioners.

Contributors draw from diverse institutions, organizations, and departments providing richness and diversity in perspectives, contexts, and themes: overall, the selection covers an array of social protection issues around the pandemic, jobs, climate, education, food security, early childhood, adolescence, old-age, gender, nutrition, economic multipliers, financing, politics, and social contracts.

Enjoy the suggested readings!


Amanda Glassman (Center for Global Development, CGD)


Amber Peterman (University of North Carolina)


Anit Mukherjee (Center for Global Development, CGD)


Armando Barrientos (University of Manchester)


Berk Özler (World Bank)


Carmen Burbano (World Food Programme)


Charles Knox-Vydmanov (Independent Consultant)


Christina Behrendt and Ian Orton (International Labour Organization, ILO)


Daniel Clarke (Centre for Disaster Protection)


David Coady (International Monetary Fund, IMF)


David Evans (Center for Global Development, CGD)


Eeshani Kandpal (World Bank)


Florence Kondylis (World Bank)


Francesca Bastagli (Overseas Development Institute, ODI)


Franziska Gassmann (UNU-MERIT/Maastricht University)


Harold Alderman (International Food Policy Research Institute, IFPRI)


Herwig Immervoll (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD)


John Hoddinott (Cornell University)


Joshua Blumenstock (U.C. Berkeley)


Keetie Roelen (Centre for Social Protection, Institute of Development Studies)


Laura Alfers (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing, WIEGO)


Michal Rutkowski (World Bank)


Miguel Niño-Zarazúa (SOAS University of London and UNU-WIDER)


Natalia Winder Rossi (UNICEF)


Patrick Premand (World Bank)


Paul Harvey (Humanitarian Outcomes)


Paul Niehaus (U.C. San Diego)


Rachel Strohm (Innovations for Poverty Action)


Rema Hanna (Harvard Kennedy School)


Ruth Hill (World Bank)


Simone Cecchini (United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, ECLAC)


Ugo Gentilini (World Bank)


Valentina Barca (Social Protection Approaches to COVID-19: Expert advice helpline (SPACE) team leader 2020-21)


p.s. this collection is also published on the LTD blog.


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 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
        • Conditional cash transfers
        • Unconditional cash transfers
      • In kind transfers
        • School feeding programmes
    • Social care services
  • Social insurance
  • Labour market / employment programmes
Social Protection Building Blocks: 
  • Policy
    • Governance and coordination
  • Programme design
    • Targeting
  • Programme implementation
Social Protection Approaches: 
  • Political economy
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Disaster risk management / reduction
  • Environment
  • Food and nutritional security
  • Gender
  • Human capital
  • Inequalities
  • Labour market / employment
  • Poverty reduction
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Niger
  • Uganda
  • Brazil
  • Ecuador
  • United States
  • Indonesia
  • Jordan
  • Thailand
  • Global
  • Latin America & Caribbean
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • South Asia
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
The views presented here are the author's and not's