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Strengthening public safety nets

  • Morduch, Jonathan
  • Sharma, Manohar

Helping to reduce vulnerability poses a new set of challenges for public policy. The most immediate challenge is to determine the appropriate role for public action if there should be a role at all. A starting point is the ways that communities and extended families try to cope with difficullties in the absence of government interventions. Coping mechanisms range from the informal exchange of transfers and loans within families and commmunitieis to more structured institutions that enable an entire community to provides protections to their neediest members. The existence of this web of private and nonformal mechanisms pompts a series of questions: Will building public safety nets displace existing mechanisms and offer limited net gain to households? Would it be more effective to strengthen existing mechanisms than creating new ones? Can the private sector and NGOs play larger roles? This paper provides some speculative answers and describes places for public action, as well as its limits.

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Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series FCND briefs with number 122.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:fcndbr:122
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  1. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Binswanger, Hans P., 1989. "Wealth, Weather Risk and the Composition and Profitability of Agricultural Investments," Bulletins 7455, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  2. Jonathan Morduch, 1999. "The Microfinance Promise," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1569-1614, December.
  3. Steel, William F. & Aryeetey, Ernest & Hettige, Hemamala & Nissanke, Machiko, 1997. "Informal financial markets under liberalization in four African countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 817-830, May.
  4. Bouis, Howarth E., 1994. "Agricultural technology and food policy to combat iron deficiency in developing countries," FCND discussion papers 1, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  5. Jonathan Morduch, 1995. "Income Smoothing and Consumption Smoothing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 103-114, Summer.
  6. Mark Rosenzweig & Andrew D. Foster, 1995. "Imperfect Commitment, Altruism, and the Family: Evidence from Transfer Behavior in Low-Income Rural Areas," Home Pages _075, University of Pennsylvania.
  7. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Stark, Oded, 1989. "Consumption Smoothing, Migration, and Marriage: Evidence from Rural India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 905-26, August.
  8. Morduch, Jonathan, 1999. "Between the State and the Market: Can Informal Insurance Patch the Safety Net?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 14(2), pages 187-207, August.
  9. de la Briere, Benedicte & de Janvry, Alain & Lambert, Sylvie & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 1997. "Why do migrants remit?," FCND discussion papers 37, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  10. Lucas, Robert E B & Stark, Oded, 1985. "Motivations to Remit: Evidence from Botswana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(5), pages 901-18, October.
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