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Author: Ugo

This informal newsletter.....

SP Links Jan 17 – social protection and climate change in LAC; effects of MPESA in Kenya; tax policy options in Africa; case studies on universal health coverage; work and childcare in four countries; social protection and non-standard work; physiological support and work search in Australia; and much more…

We need to know way more on how to adapt social assistance to climate risks! So I am pleased to see a new paper by Solórzano and Cárdenes discussing social protection and climate change, with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. The paper reviews the conceptual links between those agendas and illustrates a number of interesting global practices. These include, among others, climate information collection tools (see examples from Mali, Nicaragua and Jamaica, p.10), climate-triggered scale up (see Kenya’s HSNP, p.12), and a framework for forecast-based financing (p.14), coordination mechanisms (Mexico and Anguilla, p.18), as well as linkages between interventions and broader environmental services (e.g., CCTs in Paraguay and Brazil p.23, and public works in Kenya p.24).

Trust plays a big role in social protection, so what’s the implication in the era of populism? According to Devarajan, we need to “… emphasizing redistribution over efficiency, to signal that government is delivering to the public, thereby helping to restore people’s confidence in government”.

Moving to Africa, what are the financial benefits from Kenya’s MPESA mobile money innovations? A paper by Alinaghi re-examines Jack and Suri’s ‘Risk Sharing and Transaction Costs’ paper: results are robust to consistency tests and provide strong empirical evidence that M-PESA has had a positive impact on people’s financial health.

From payments to finance: a fascinating piece by Brooking’s Coulibaly discusses tax policy options in Africa, which notes that regional tax capacity grew by 2.5 percentage points between 2000 and 2015. Framed around the SDGs, his analysis assesses a number of options to close the gap between current ($271B) and required spending ($528B), including tax efficiency, illicit flows, profit sharing, and tax capacity. Combined, these efforts could narrow the gap to just over $10B/year.

More on financing: Combes et al estimate that countries that adopted fiscal rules experience a significant decrease income inequality (balanced budget and debt rules significantly lower inequality, contrary to expenditure rules that increase it); in a Voxdev summary, Chen et al found that the VAT in China increased firm investment by 36%; and Calleja and Prizzon synthesize the experiences of four countries – Botswana, Chile, Mexico and the Republic of Korea – in the transitioning away from aid and development assistance.

While quite diverse, I always thought there is plenty that social protection can learn from health’s experience in universal health coverage (e.g., see here). So was happy to read a new fascinating report by McDonnell et al reviewing the experience of 49 countries toward UHC (full data is here).

What’s new on resilience? Check out the outcomes of the recent CaLP learning event on ‘delivering cash better’ in the Horn of Africa, including implications for cash transfer values, role of NGOs, and links to national systems.

Gender! An IDS paper by Chopra et al discusses the linkages between childcare, paid work, and other tasks carried out by women in India, Nepal, Tanzania, and Rwanda. They find that the effect of childcare on women’s engagement in paid work (hours, location, type, or nature of work) is mediated by different factors: (a) the economic condition of the household; (b) the availability of alternative care arrangements; (c) the household structure and; (d) alternative options (for both men and women) for paid work.

Let’s move to the labor and skills corner, with Indhira Santos and Michael Weber. The OECD latest edition of Pensions at a Glance highlights pension reforms undertaken by OECD countries over the last two years, with a special chapter on non-standard work. Pulignano and Hendrickx curated a fascinating review of employment relations in the 21st Century, including new forms of social protection and representation for different forms of work, while Englert and Runciman examine precarious workers’ institutional and associational power in Gauteng, South Africa. Coppin and Ciarrochi found that a psychosocial intervention (PSI) for welfare-receiving jobseekers in Australia was more effective than traditional interventions (20.4% increase in job placements), but only for jobseekers who were already proactively seeking a job.

Final assortment: the IPC-IG issued the 4th volume of its compilation of 100 one-pagers; Kondylis and McKenzie updated their nice curated list of postings on methodological issues; de Brauw et al lay out a research agenda on food systems and dietary health in Bangladesh; Ghandi notes that Africa has been doing quite well on both poverty and health; and Santens added a set of new 2020 titles to his catalogue of UBI books.