SPACE Drivers of Timely and Large-Scale Cash Responses to COVID-19: what does the data say?

This note compares the experiences of 53 low- and middle-income countries to identify drivers of timely and large-scale government social assistance responses to COVID-19. The analysis covers cash responses only and focuses on the capacity of the social protection sector and beyond. It compares response times (the first payment date) across countries and analyses their correlation with various potential drivers of timely response, including contextual, legislation and funding, social protection capacity, and service delivery factors.

An important caveat is that, in most cases, the first payment date is an imperfect measure of when a response ‘starts’, because many beneficiaries (and often most of those who are poor and vulnerable) receive transfers later. This is to say, timely responses are not always inclusive and are not always timely for all. This note therefore supplements its initial wide-ranging, data-driven analysis with more detailed case studies that allow for further analysis of issues like the extent of coverage (where this data was available), along with lessons learned from these case studies.