Social transfers and chronic poverty: objectives, design, reach and impact
In the first decade of the new century, social transfer programmes emerged as a new paradigm in the fight against poverty in the global South. These programmes currently reach more than 860 million people worldwide. This paper focuses on three policy questions: first, do programme objectives address chronic poverty? Second, are programme design features – the identification and selection of beneficiaries, delivery mechanisms and complementary interventions – effective in reaching chronically poor households? And third, do social assistance programmes benefit the chronically poor? The paper finds that by promoting longer-term human capital investment and protecting household assets and facilitating asset building, social transfers can directly or indirectly tackle persistent deprivation. The discussion notes that current knowledge on the outcomes of social transfers encourages strong expectations on its potential role in addressing long-term poverty, but that this can only be confirmed when current programmes reach maturity. This draws attention to the importance of extending the scope, depth and especially length of academic research into these relevant questions.
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