Research Themes


Urbanization and Development

Development Finance

Agriculture, Development and Natural Resources

Inequality, Poverty, Social Protection and Social Policy

Rule of Law, Governance, Institutions and Development

Human Capital Formation, Education and Development

Labor Markets, Employment and International Migration

Inequality, Poverty, Social Protection and Social Policy

[Children taking care of babies in Vang Vieng, Laos.]

Issues related to social protection are becoming very crucial in the aftermath of the global financial crisis but also in view of growing inequality in the developing world. Indeed, there is a growing consciousness of the benefits of social protection as a measure to protect people from becoming trapped in poverty, to empower them to seize opportunities, to help workers to adjust to changes and to deal with unemployment and thus support productivity. Therefore, the importance of social policies and social protection systems that address and reduce inequality and social exclusion for long-term sustainable and inclusive growth should be taken into consideration in development policy. Yet, we need to know more about the mechanisms and the channels through which social protection and social policy more general affect the most vulnerable in the developing world (and beyond). Social protection can also support the achievement of poverty reduction, rising the income in the short run, allowing people to build their assets (such in the case of Brazilian Bolsa Familia) and therefore accelerating growth, with positive spillovers at the community level (such in the case of Mexican PROGRESA) (Lustig, 2010). Finally, evidence seems to suggest that social protection could reduce the poverty head count ratio by 5% to 10%, thus contributing substantially to the achievement of MDG-1 (European Report on Development, 2010).

Key research questions include: (non-exhaustive list)

  • What are the mechanisms through which social safety nets and social protection can protect the most vulnerable in the developing world to cope with external as well as domestic shocks outside their control?
  • How can “structural economic vulnerability” be measured?
  • What can we learn from the experience of social protection policies and schemes in Latin America (and Asia) and how similar policies can be implemented in sub-Saharan Africa?
Related GDN Activities

A crucial first step in research on this theme is an in-depth understanding of the structural factors that lead to long-term socio-economic exclusion of citizens from economic progress. While the macro perspective on problems of economic growth might appear similar, the problems at the grassroots level are often very idiosyncratic. GDN's efforts at building skills of researchers at a local level enable a better understanding of these problems, which in turn lead to a more effective policy prescription to solve them.