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Do social benefits respond to crises? Evidence from Europe and Central Asia during the global crisis

  • Isik-Dikmelik, Aylin
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    Social benefits can potentially play an important role in protecting the poor and minimizing the impacts of an economic crisis. While many studies estimate the impacts of a crisis, there is little evidence of the actual response of social safety nets to systematic shocks. This study traces the response of social benefits during the 2008-10 global crisis for 14 countries in Europe and Central Asia (ECA). The study first sets out a framework for defining the'expected'response of social benefits covering an assessment of pre-crisis preparedness of social benefits and the severity of the crisis for all countries in the ECA region to provide the context; and then develops a typology of all countries categorized by expected response. Using this typology the study analyzes the monthly administrative data on the observed patterns within social benefit programs. Main findings indicate that actual responses were largely in line with expectations. Pre-crisis preparedness clearly influenced the ability of social benefits to respond to the crisis. Unemployment benefits were generally the first line of response in countries that have them, while social assistance programs also expanded coverage during the crisis. Lessons learned from the 2008?2010 global crisis (such as the importance of structural reform, design, and implementation which affect the success of social benefits programs in crisis response) are also presented. The study concludes with some policy recommendations to help ECA countries prepare for future crises.

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    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Social Protection Discussion Papers with number 73696.

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    Date of creation: 01 Nov 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:hdnspu:73696
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    1. World Bank, 2009. "Pensions in Crisis : Europe and Central Asia Regional Policy Note," World Bank Other Operational Studies 18728, The World Bank.
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