Social protection: Targeting the poorest – missing the mark

Social protection, including child benefits, social pensions and other forms of cash transfers, is recognised as a key strategy to reduce poverty and reach many other of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As for which types of interventions are most effective, however, views differ.

Many people believe that ‘targeting the poor’ is the best means of ‘reaching the poor.’ The argument for this is often that efficient targeting, rather than broad or universal programmes, will maximise the impacts of limited development finance. Intuitively, this aligns well with the 2030 Agenda commitment to leave no one behind. But the research report Hit and miss: An assessment of targeting effectiveness in social protection, which examines over 30 social protection programmes in low- and middle-income countries, suggests otherwise.

The report shows that programmes targeted at those living in poverty exclude the majority of the intended recipients, while universal schemes are much more effective in reaching the poorest. Universal programmes are also more popular, which means that they are more likely to continue to be allocated adequate resources by governments than poverty-targeted schemes.

Stephen Kidd, one of the authors of the report, will present the policy context and results of the report, followed by a discussion with Sara Heikkinen Breitholz, Member of Parliament and of the Foreign Affairs Committee (Social Democratic Party), and Kenneth Nelson, Professor of Sociology at the Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University.

The seminar is organised by Act Church of Sweden and FUF, and will be moderated by Karin Klerby, FUF Board Member. Most welcome!

Dr Stephen Kidd is a Senior Social Protection Specialist at Development Pathways. He has engaged on social protection in over 30 countries across Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Latin America. His experience ranges from advisory support to national governments – including on policy development – designing social protection programmes, research on a wide range of topics, and training. He previously worked for DFID, including leading its Social Protection and Equity and Rights policy teams, was Director of Policy and Communications at HelpAge International and a lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh.

Please note that the venue is located half a floor below street level with no elevator. The seminar is held in English.

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