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


  • John Gibson


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 201548, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:appswp:201548

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Felipe Barrera-Osorio & Marianne Bertrand & Leigh L. Linden & Francisco Perez-Calle, 2008. "Conditional Cash Transfers in Education Design Features, Peer and Sibling Effects Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Colombia," NBER Working Papers 13890, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    1. The UBI and the political constraint
      by Eric Crampton in Offsetting Behaviour on 2016-03-31 05:00:00

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    conditional cash transfers; informal safety net; poverty traps; social protection;

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