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UNICEF Social Inclusion, Policy and Budgeting

Transformative Social Protection

Cover Image
AUTHOR Stephen Devereux and Rachel Sebates-Wheeler
ORGANIZATION Institute of Development Studies
TYPE Working Paper
DATE 2004
TOPIC Child-sensitive social protection

Social protection describes all public and private initiatives that provide income or consumption transfers to the poor, protect the vulnerable against livelihood risks, and enhance the social status and rights of the marginalized; with the overall objective of reducing economic and social vulnerability of poor, vulnerable and marginalized groups. This paper argues against the popular perception of social protection as “social welfare programs for poor countries”, consisting of costly targeted transfers to economically inactive or vulnerable groups. It also challenges the limited ambition of social protection policy in practice, which has moved little from its origins in the “social safety nets” discourse of the 1980s, and aims to provide “economic protection” against livelihood shocks, rather than “social protection” as broadly defined here. Instead, this paper argues that social protection can be affordable; it should extend to all of the population; it can contribute to the Millennium Development Goal of poverty reduction; and it can empower marginalized people and be socially 'transformative'.

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