IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

How much do small old age pensions and widow’s pensions help the poor in India?


  • Christopher Garroway

    (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) South and South-West Asia Office)


The National Social Assistance Programme consists of five social assistance transfers, which form the core of India’s fledgling minimum social protection floor. These transfers have been scaled up over the last decade and further steps will soon be taken towards their universalization with exclusion criteria. This paper provides a rigorous evaluation of two of the NSAP schemes, the old age pension and the widow’s pension. Using the 2005 Indian Human Development Survey data’s detailed information on household income and consumption expenditure, the paper measures the impact of the two pensions on household’s incomes, consumption and poverty status, using the propensity score matching estimator. The pensions are found to vary dramatically in their effectiveness given the wide diversity of recipients across income quintiles, spatial location, and social group. The widow’s pension is shown to reduce poverty among recipients by about 2.7 percentage points. Government attempts to target the pensions to poor households have been ineffective, and steps towards universalization may in fact improve their effectiveness.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Garroway, 2013. "How much do small old age pensions and widow’s pensions help the poor in India?," Development Papers 1306, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) South and South-West Asia Office.
  • Handle: RePEc:eap:sswadp:dp1306

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. World Bank, 2011. "Social Protection for a Changing India : Executive Summary," World Bank Other Operational Studies 2746, The World Bank.
    2. Case, Anne & Deaton, Angus, 1998. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1330-1361, September.
    3. World Bank, 2011. "Social Protection for a Changing India : Main Report," World Bank Other Operational Studies 2745, The World Bank.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Dominic Richardson & UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, 2018. "Key Findings on Families, Family Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals: Synthesis Report," Papers inorer948, Innocenti Research Report.
    2. Sudha Narayanan & Nicolas Gerber, 2015. "Social safety nets for food and nutritional security in India," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2015-031, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
    3. Vidhya UNNIKRISHNAN & Katsushi S. Imai, "undated". "Does the Old Age Pension Scheme Improve Household Welfare? Evidence from India," Discussion Paper Series DP2018-20, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University, revised May 2019.
    4. Sudha Narayanan Narayanan & Nicolas Gerber, 2016. "Safety Nets for Food and Nutritional Security in India," FOODSECURE Working papers 37, LEI Wageningen UR.

    More about this item


    India; Social protetoin; pension; Poverty; income;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eap:sswadp:dp1306. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) South and South-West Asia Office). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.