Social Protection Initiative

Social Protection Initiative

Social protection programs provide a safety net and sustain livelihoods during challenging economic conditions, such as during the Covid-19 crisis. The Social Protection Initiative identifies effective policies and programs in low- and middle-income countries that insure against shocks and break poverty traps.

Social protection programs provide a safety net and sustain livelihoods during challenging economic conditions, such as during the Covid-19 crisis. The Social Protection Initiative identifies effective policies and programs in low- and middle-income countries that insure against shocks and break poverty traps.

The Social Protection Initiative, a joint collaboration between the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at the Harvard Kennedy School aims to bring together researchers, nonprofits, and policy actors to spur the next generation of cutting-edge research in social protection in low- and middle-income countries and to support policy engagement to share insights from completed research. 

People walking through market stands

Worldwide, social protection programs are growing in scope to help combat poverty and reduce inequality in low- and middle-income economies. Social protection refers to the wide variety of programs that aim to provide financial assistance to low-income families, insure against shocks, and break poverty traps. Designing social protection programs for low- and middle-income country contexts, however, entails challenges that differ from those faced in high-income economies. For example, governments in these contexts may not have data on people’s employment status and incomes, which makes it difficult to effectively target benefit programs to those most in need.  

As social protection programs continue to grow in scope, it is critical that governments build robust systems that can both address long-term poverty and help vulnerable households adapt to economic, health, climatic, or other shocks. The Covid-19 crisis highlighted just how important these programs are in providing a safety net and sustaining livelihoods given challenging economic conditions, as these programs were scaled up quickly to address the health and economic crisis. 

While the body of evidence has been growing on social protection, key evidence gaps remain. To spur a new body of rigorous impact evaluations on social protection, J-PAL and EPoD established SPI to fund policy-relevant research on social protection programs in low- and middle-income countries.

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Article|May 5, 2022

Rema Hanna discusses the social protection programs created around the world to mitigate hardships of COVID-19.

Event|April 13, 2022
SPI launch

Join the webinar for remarks from experts in social protection on the importance of rigorous research in social protection policy.

Article|January 31, 2022

J-PAL & EPoD launch a new initiative to generate rigorous evidence on the effectiveness of social protection programs.

Article|May 5, 2021

CID hosts a panel on rethinking roles and priorities in the development space following the pandemic. 

Article|July 31, 2020

The Municipality of Lima worked with MPAID students led by Rema Hanna to identify policy strategies for a sustainable response.

Article|June 11, 2020

Rema Hanna on the urgency of social protection policies in addressing economic impacts of COVID-19 in fragile states.

Article

The benefit of using community targeting methods to distribute cash transfers during Covid-19.

Article

The impact of replacing food assistance programs from in-kind transfers to electronic vouchers.

Request for Proposals

The Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT hosts a request for proposals for randomized evaluations of social protection programs in low- and middle-income countries. The Social Protections Initiative will have one regular funding cycle per year, hosted by J-PAL.  Learn more here.

 

To learn more, please reach out to EPoD’s Director, Katy Doyle. You can also follow us on twitter at EPoD or J-PAL for more updates.