Social protection research centers

Continuing on my SP data kick, I wanted to highlight some of the key research centers and publications that are useful for understanding the contemporary social protection landscape.

The World Bank’s Social Protection Unit: A major funder of SP programs around the world, the WB also offers a wealth of data and analysis. Key publication: Sourcebook on the Foundations of Social Protection Delivery Systems (2020).

ILO Global Flagship Program on Building Social Protection Floors for All: The ILO advocates for social protection floors and offers policy analysis to partner governments. Key publication: World Social Protection Report 2017 – 2019 (2017).

The IADB’s Social Protection Unit: Major funder of SP programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Key publication: The Unequal Burden of the Pandemic: Why the Fallout of Covid-19 Hits the Poor the Hardest (2020).

The Transfer Project: A research center which carries out rigorous evaluations of cash transfer programs around the world. Key publication: A Mixed-Method Review of Cash Transfers and Intimate Partner Violence in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (2018).

ODI Equity and Social Policy Unit: Research and commentary on global social protection programs. Key publication: Cash Transfers: What Does the Evidence Say? (2016).

Centre for Social Protection at IDS: A research center which carries out program evaluations and shares commentary on social protection. Key publication: Linking Social Rights to Active Citizenship for the Most Vulnerable: the Role of Rights and Accountability in the ‘Making’ and ‘Shaping’ of Social Protection (2019).

Centre for Social Science Research at UCT: The research center covers a range of topics, but filtering the publication list by “CSSR” brings up a strong focus on social protection in southern Africa. Key publication: The politics of social protection policy reform in Malawi, 2006-2017 (2020).

ERIA’s Social Protection Unit: A research institute focused on SP in East Asia and ASEAN countries. Key publication: Social Protection Goals in East Asia: Strategies and Methods to Generate Fiscal Space (2018).

Maintains: A five-year research program on adaptive social protection in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. Key publication: Conceptual framework for studying social protection responses to COVID-19 (2020).

The Political Economy of Social Protection Expansion in Africa at ESID: A research program focused on Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Key publication: The Politics of Social Protection in Eastern and Southern Africa (2019).

Research at GiveDirectly: GD implements programs which are designed to answer pressing questions about the impacts of cash transfers. Key publication: The impact of unconditional cash transfers on poor households in rural Kenya (2016).

SocialProtection.org: Online portal for events, courses, and publications related to social protection. Key publication: Options for rapid delivery (payment) of cash transfers for COVID-19 responses and beyond (2020).

3ie’s Social Protection Unit: Shares impact evaluations, systematic reviews, and evidence gap maps related to social protection. Key publication: Household and economy-wide impacts of a public works programme in Ethiopia (2017).

GDSRC’s Social Protection Unit: Shares impact evaluations and systematic reviews related to social protection, and has a topic guide for people new to the sector. Key publication: Social Protection Topic Guide (2019).

Center for Guaranteed Income Research: Evaluations of guaranteed income programs in the US. Key publication: Mitigating loss of health insurance and means tested benefits in an unconditional cash transfer experiment: Implementation lessons from Stockton’s guaranteed income pilot (2020).

Stanford Basic Income Lab: Knowledge hub which aggregates research on basic income from around the world. Key publication: What We Know About Universal Basic Income: A Cross-Synthesis of Reviews (2020).

The Cash Transfer Lab at NYU: Focuses on evaluations of cash transfers in the US, particularly in Alaska. No publications yet.

Social protection data sources

I’ve been digging into different data sources on social protection recently and wanted to collate some of them here. There are lots of great public resources available. If you know of any other useful datasets that I’m missing, do let me know!

Atlas of Social Protection: Indicators of Resilience and Equity (ASPIRE)

  • Data source: World Bank
  • Geographic coverage: 125 countries
  • Temporal coverage: 1998 – 2019
  • Regularly updated: Yes
  • Main indicators: Adequacy of benefits (as a percentage of total monthly consumption), transfer size, income level of beneficiaries, program coverage, cost-benefit ratio, poverty gap reduction
  • Notes: Indicators are broken down by program type, urban vs. rural beneficiaries, and income quintiles

Social Assistance in Low and Middle Income Countries (SALMIC)

  • Data source: University of Manchester
  • Geographic coverage: 110 countries
  • Temporal coverage: 2000 – 2015
  • Regularly updated: No
  • Main indicators: Program type, target population, targeting method, transfer value and frequency, transfer modality (cash vs. digital), implementing agency, program budget

World Social Protection Report 2017 – 2019

  • Data source: ILO
  • Geographic coverage: 189 countries
  • Temporal coverage: 1995 – 2018
  • Regularly updated: Yes
  • Main indicators: Program coverage, program funding, implementing agency, benefit type
  • Notes: Indicators are broken down by beneficiary type (children, mothers, people with disabilities, unemployed people, the elderly)

Social Security Programs Throughout the World

  • Data source: US Social Security Administration
  • Geographic coverage: 170 countries
  • Temporal coverage: 2002 – 2019
  • Regularly updated: Yes
  • Main indicators: Regulatory framework, target population, source of funding, implementing agency
  • Notes: Individual country case studies are provided for each year. Not available as a single dataset

Partnership for Economic Inclusion (PEI) Data Portal

  • Data source: World Bank
  • Geographic coverage: 75 countries
  • Temporal coverage: Not stated, but the portal launched in 2020, so the data is recent
  • Regularly updated: Yes
  • Main indicators: Program objectives, program components, cost of program components, target population, implementing partners
  • Notes: Focuses on economic inclusion programs, a.k.a. graduation programs, which offer bundled interventions (such as cash transfers + asset transfers + training) to vulnerable populations. Data can be accessed through their portal but not downloaded

HelpAge Social Pensions Database

  • Data source: HelpAge
  • Geographic coverage: 111 countries
  • Temporal coverage: 1890 – 2016
  • Regularly updated: Yes
  • Main indicators: Benefit levels, targeting, population coverage, program cost

Global Social Protection COVID-19 Response Database

  • Data source: World Bank
  • Geographic coverage: 212 countries
  • Temporal coverage: 2020 (obviously!)
  • Regularly updated: Yes
  • Main indicators: Program type, number of beneficiaries (planned & actual), program budget, adequacy of benefits (as a percentage of total monthly consumption)
  • Notes: Updated versions of this database and accompanying paper are regularly published through Ugo Gentilini’s website

Non-Contributory Social Programs Database for Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Data source: UN
  • Geographic coverage: 21 countries
  • Temporal coverage: 1919 – 2019
  • Regularly updated: Yes
  • Main indicators: Target population, targeting method, payment modality, transfer value, implementing agency, legal framework, program budget
  • Notes: Data is provided for multiple years, not just the most recent year. Individual country case studies and datasets are provided, but there isn’t a single dataset for the entire region.

Realizing the Full Potential of Social Safety Nets in Africa

  • Data source: World Bank
  • Geographic coverage: 48 countries
  • Temporal coverage: Snapshot of country programs in 2017
  • Regularly updated: No
  • Main indicators: Poverty headcount, national social protection strategy, implementing agency, program type, targeting method, program coverage, program expenditure (as % of GDP and government revenue), funding sources, administrative costs, transfer value
  • Notes: Data is provided in the tables in appendices C – J of this book. It’s not available for download as a separate dataset

Social Cash Transfer Payment Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Data source: UCT
  • Geographic coverage: 44 countries
  • Temporal coverage: 1927 – 2020
  • Regularly updated: No
  • Main indicators: Targeting method, program coverage, payment value, payment frequency, payment modality
  • Notes: Data is provided in the tables in the appendix of this paper. It’s not available for download as a separate dataset.

Social Protection Indicators for Asia and the Pacific

  • Data source: ADB
  • Geographic coverage: 42 countries
  • Temporal coverage: 2005 – 2015
  • Regularly updated: Yes
  • Main indicators: Program coverage, program expenditures, adequacy of benefits
  • Notes: Data can be viewed through their interactive portal and downloaded as a separate dataset for each indicator

World Social Protection Data Dashboards

  • Data source: ILO
  • Geographic coverage: 220 countries
  • Temporal coverage: Snapshot of country programs in most recent year for which data is available
  • Regularly updated: Yes
  • Main indicators: Program coverage (by total population and also by different categories of vulnerable people), expenditure as % of GDP