Let’s begin with the heterogenous effects of social protection as an economic response: estimates on the effects of social protection in mitigating Covid19 in South Africa by Barnes et al show that in Spring 2020 household income decreased by 11%; yet the drop would have been in the order of 25% in the absence of package of 7 cash transfers and other social protection measures. Using a similar methodology, paper by Jara et al found that in Ecuador the mitigating effects of the sole Family Protection Grant were negligible: while household income decreased by 41%, Covid-related social assistance (which included $120 to low-income families) accounted only for a 0.8% increase.

Speaking of income, can public work spark economic growth? Cook and Shah estimate that India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) increased aggregate economic output by 1-2% per capita measured by night-time lights (NREGS reaches 600M rural at a cost of 0.5% of GDP). However, effects were limited to three better-off districts (which also witnessed public works-induced income growth three times higher).

… and since I mentioned employment, can social protection be formalized from the bottom up? A new ILO brief lays out experiences to help small firms more easily register their workers for social protection. The note includes various practical examples – e.g., see Morocco and Benin for simplified procedures and ‘handholding’ services (p.4); Vietnam and Indonesia illustrate the interaction between productivity and social protection formalization (p.10); the role for employers’ and workers’ organizations in entry-level tax and social protection is explored in DRC and Brazil (p.13); and simplification of payment procedures occurred in Argentina and Uruguay (p.14) (h/t Christina Behrendt).

So let’s enter the labor and skills corner (h/t Michael Weber) with a trio of resources on mobility, whether forced and not: Mobarak et al followed 3,512 (of 1.4 million) applicants to a government lottery that randomly allocated visas to Bangladeshis for low-skilled, temporary labor contracts in Malaysia. Most lottery winners migrate, and their remittance substantially raises their family’s standard of living in Bangladesh. Aracı et al found that the impact of Syrian refugees on Turkish citizens’ labor market outcomes (e.g., on labor force participation of women) becomes significantly less adverse as regional development level rises. Borjas and Edo, however, find some gender-disaggregated effects in France: immigration did not change the wage of French women, but led to a sizable decline in their employment rate. In contrast, immigration had little impact on the employment rate of men, but led to a sizable drop in the male wage.

Bonus on gender: Lopez-Acevedo et al explore the challenges affecting female insertion into the Moroccan labor market: higher educational attainment increases the probability of employment, but this relationship has decreased over time and didn’t offset other obstacles (like being married and the presence of other inactive women in the family). And Boheim and Gust estimate that In Austria, a gender pay transparency law (introduced in 2011 and requiring companies with more than 1,000 employees to publish a pay report every other year) increased wage of newly hired women.

Any news on health? Three CaLP country case studies show how social protection (via vouchers) can contribute to better health: meeting transport costs to travel to health facilities in Burkina Fasoaccessing a health service package in Bangladesh; and meeting out-of-pocket health expenditures by refugees in Jordan.

From refugees to violence and fragility… where will poverty be concentrated in 2030, ask Baier et al? Their blog revisits poverty projections in fragile states and shows that Nigeria will lead the pack. At household level, Porter et al found that in Peru young people (18-26) experienced an 8.3% increase in physical violence within their families during the lockdown period.

Big data! The BBC has a podcast + video on how machine learning used satellite photos and mobile phones to generate poverty maps in Togo, while the “machine learning and economic inequality” conference took place this week (see agenda).

Let me conclude with more events and initiatives… interested in a micro course of social protection and rural poverty? GIZ-BMZ, FAO and IPC-IG have developed an online one inclusive of 5 modules; in case you missed it, there is a webinar recording of Palermo and Roy discussing cash transfers and violence against women and children; a Facebook chat on UBI with Max Ghenis and Greg Nasif; and check out the upcoming ODI event on “climate crisis and humanitarian needs” (April 29).


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
      • Non-contributory health insurance
      • Transport subsidies
  • Labour market programs/Public work/Productive inclusion
    • Labour market programs/Public work/Productive inclusion - General
Social Protection Topics: 
  • Benefits payment/delivery
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Single registry/Unified database/MIS
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Gender
  • Growth
  • Health
    • Health - General
  • Global
  • Global
The views presented here are the author's and not socialprotection.org's