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Weekly Social Protection Links Posts

October 13, 2017 (links edition #29)

What are the effects of providing agricultural and social assistance programs for the same beneficiaries? In Malawi, Paci et al explore the interplay between the Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP) and the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) (courtesy of Alejandro Grinspun). When combined, there are synergies between SCTP and FISP in increasing expenditures (especially among labor unconstrained households) and agricultural production and livestock (particularly for labor constrained households). More on agriculture: Ivanic and Martin estimate that in developing countries, increases in agricultural productivity generally have a larger poverty-reduction effect than increases in other sectors. Specifically, the change, in percentage points, in the poverty rate at $1.25 per day resulting from a 1% increase in total factor productivity in agriculture is -0.22, while in industry and services it is -0.07 and -0.16, respectively. Burnham and Ma have an interesting WD paper looking at how smallholders in China follow ‘multi-scalar’ pathways in agricultural adaptation (that is, they adapt to a range of environmental, institutional and other risks).

The IMF has released its much-awaited Fiscal Monitor October issue on inequality, also featuring universal basic income. The latter is discussed in an elegant, self-contained section, although limited to eight high/middle income countries. The authors are basically open to UBI, with key factors to consider including current social assistance performance, the presence of regressive subsidies, admin capacity, and the level of progressivity in the tax system. P.19 may also catch your eye, where there is quite some optimism in tabling UBI as an option in LICs. More on universality, but this time on health: Glassman has a nice new edited volume on how to pay for different benefit packages and navigate the trade-offs between them.

Talking of health, the classic ‘nutrition transition’ has reached Africa. Dahir blogs that as more Africans move to urban areas and enter the middle class, many are indulging in high-sugar and salty processed fast foods. This change in lifestyle and eating habits is increasing the prevalence of diabetes and obesity across the continent. Elsewhere, such risks have led, for example, in tailoring urban nutritional trainings accompanying CCTs, e.g., in Mexico. In that spirit, MDRC has developed a framework, i.e., SIMPLER, to incorporate behavioral nudges into service delivery (full report is here).

Three papers on migration. In a thought-provoking JDS article, Docquier et al argue that migration can affect the prevalence of interstate military conflict. But do skills affect migration decisions? Based on data from Norway, Butikofer and Peri find that adaptability and cognitive ability have significant and positive impacts on the probability of an individual migrating out of the native area, whether this involves rural-urban, long distance, or international migration. In just under two years, the European Union has approved $2 billion in projects related to slow the pace of migration down: in a Foreign Policy piece, McCormick argues the aid might just help accelerate the exodus.

Since I mentioned Europe – the OECD has a new book on systems and complexity in policymaking. Of particular interest is the chapter by Hidalgo and Hartmann on complexity in institutions and inequality.

A rich set of resilience materials. In a new report, ODI’s Peters shows that disasters and conflict increasingly happen in tandem, and shows examples of programmatic integration – e.g., in urban areas affected by gang violence in Haiti; the adoption of conflict-sensitive approaches in Somalia to address flooding and drought; and the establishment of early warning systems to manage local food insecurity in Chad (see infographic here). Knox-Vydmanov reflects on the role of pensions in conflict and crisis-affected states, arguing that those fragile states that have made significant steps towards lifecycle social protection systems have commonly put pensions at the core of this process. Finally, the collection of OMP-WFP case studies on shock-responsive social protection in LAC is getting richer, with the newly-released Guatemala and Haiti cases compounding the (previously-shared) framework paper and Ecuador study.