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Expanded Social Protection May Do More Harm Than Good: A Pessimistic Review

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  • John Gibson

Abstract

There is growing interest in expanded social protection programs, even for the poorest countries. Technology now allows cash transfers to be delivered to masses of people with only weak connections to the formal economy. Also there are demonstrated effects of conditional cash transfers in improving aspects of human capital. Yet it is doubtful that social protection programs can provide a floor sufficient to eradicate extreme poverty without harming incentives and without unduly taxing a small minority of highly skilled, and increasingly mobile, workers. Long-term fiscal obligations from expanded social transfers, potential for distorted work choices, unknown interactions with informal safety nets and difficulties of targeting beneficiaries all suggest grounds for caution.

Suggested Citation

  • John Gibson, 2015. "Expanded Social Protection May Do More Harm Than Good: A Pessimistic Review," Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(3), pages 652-659, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:asiaps:v:2:y:2015:i:3:p:652-659
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/app5.106
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    1. John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2012. "The Economic Consequences of ‘Brain Drain’ of the Best and Brightest: Microeconomic Evidence from Five Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(560), pages 339-375, May.
    2. Stefan Dercon & Pramila Krishnan, 1996. "Income portfolios in rural Ethiopia and Tanzania: Choices and constraints," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(6), pages 850-875.
    3. Adriana Camacho & Emily Conover & Alejandro Hoyos, 2014. "Effects of Colombia's Social Protection System on Workers' Choice between Formal and Informal Employment," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 28(3), pages 446-466.
    4. Amar Hamoudi & Duncan Thomas, 2014. "Endogenous Co-residence and Program Incidence: South Africa's Old Age Pension," NBER Working Papers 19929, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. John Gibson & David Mckenzie, 2011. "Australia's Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme (PSWPS): Development Impacts in the First Two Years," Working Papers in Economics 11/09, University of Waikato.
    6. repec:ecj:econjl:v:122:y:2012:i::p:339-375 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Casey B. Mulligan, 2013. "Average Marginal Labor Income Tax Rates under the Affordable Care Act," NBER Working Papers 19365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Brian Jacob & Max Kapustin & Jens Ludwig, 2014. "Human Capital Effects of Anti-Poverty Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Lottery," NBER Working Papers 20164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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