The role of public versus private social safety nets in mitigating the impact of shocks in rural Pakistan

This study compares the protective effectiveness of Social Safety Nets (SSNs) provided by government and NGOs in rural Pakistan, using quasi-experimental methodology on PRPHS (2011–12) data. The treatment group was the households receiving SSNs assistance. The counterfactual (control group) was determined using propensity score matching. Outcome indicators were shock-coping strategies from which households are theoretically protected from by SSNs: reducing food consumption, switching to cheaper food, and distress asset sales. The impact of both types of SSNs was calculated by average treatment effect on the treatment group. The results showed insignificantly lesser treatment units used shock-coping strategies than the matched control unit, implying that receiving either type of SSN did not protect the household from resorting to coping strategies. However, households with public SSNs tended not to resort to switching to cheaper food as a coping strategy. This suggests that public SSNs have more protective effectiveness than private SSNs.