Targeting Women's vulnerable employment through social protection: A quasi-experimental regression discontinuity design

In Pakistan, women face economic and social vulnerability, which keeps them underpaid even without social barriers. Government micro and macroeconomic policies are aimed at income generation rather than making women part of the economic mainstream. The cash transfer program is an essential component of social protection policy in the developing world, with one of its key objectives of raising women's financial autonomy. This research investigates the impact of Pakistan's first and largest cash transfer program, named Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), on women's vulnerable employment. BISP was initiated by identifying poor households based on poverty score cutoff, thereby exploiting Regression Discontinuity Design. The findings revealed that this program reduced vulnerable employment in the initial years of its inception. However, it does not impact the later follow-up years. Policymakers should take necessary measures so that women's non-vulnerable employment may improve.