Social Protection

IDS research aims to address key challenges to the extension of social protection. In recent years social protection has risen rapidly up the policy agenda of many governments, donors, international organisations and NGOs. A growing body of evidence shows that measures such as cash transfer programmes positively impact people's lives, reducing poverty and vulnerability and strengthening livelihoods.

Social protection - woman on mountainside

However, there remain substantial challenges to the extension of social protection to all people which include:

  • We need to strengthen the linkages between social protection policy and multidimensional approaches to the analysis of poverty, risk and vulnerability.
  • We need open, independent and critical networks to share across regions and countries innovative work on the design, delivery and evaluation of social protection interventions.
  • We need to link research with capacity building and advocacy, in order to support campaigns for the right to social protection, and to ensure that practitioners and policymakers have the information and analytical tools to advocate for social protection effectively and credibly.

IDS also hosts the Centre for Social Protection (CSP), a global hub for research, policy analysis, and capacity building on social protection. CSP advances thinking, policy and practice in social protection by:

  • Creating knowledge about social protection policies and evaluating the impacts of social protection programmes.
  • Mobilising networks of researchers, policymakers and practitioners to exchange knowledge and advocate for change.
  • Strengthening capacities to shape and implement social protection policies.

To contact the CSP team please e-mail

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Photo of Camilla Lindstrom More details

Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Governance and Gender / Sexuality Research Fellow More details

Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Governance and Gender / Sexuality Research Fellow More details

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Photo of Dolf te Lintelo More details

Photo of Edoardo Massett More details

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Photo of Gerry Bloom, Research Fellow of the Knowledge Technology and Society team More details

Jeremy Lind More details

Photo of Jerker Edstrom More details

Photo of Keetie Roelen, Research Fellow in the Centre for Social Protection, IDS More details

Photo of Matteo Caravani, IDS PhD student More details

IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of Naomi Hossain, IDS Research Fellow More details

Photo of Patricia Justino, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Research Fellow More details

IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of Rachel Sabates Wheeler More details

Photo of Richard Longhurst, a Research Associate More details

Rômulo Paes de Sousa, Director of the World Centre for Sustainable Development, the Rio+ Centre and Senior International Associate with the IDS Rising Powers in International Development programme More details

Photo of Stephen Devereux, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Research Fellow More details

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Researching the Links between Social Protection and Children’s Care

This project aims to investigate the links between social protection and children's care. More details

Save the Children: How can social protection better respond to child poverty in Nepal?

Nepal has expanded its investment in social protection over the last few years, with a National Framework for Social Protection drafted in 2011. However, the impact of social protection generally and on children is compromised by challenges in coverage, implementation and delivery. Save the Children commissioned IDS to assess how social protection addresses child poverty in Nepal in order to inform their advocacy at the national level. More details

Scoping Social Protection in the Middle East and North Africa

The Cairo Regional Bureau of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Centre for Social Protection at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex conducted a scoping study of social protection programmes in the Middle East and North Africa region. More details

Set of Studies on Social Protection in Low- and Middle-Income Countries with Special Focus on Ghana

The Centre for Social Protection at IDS, UNICEF Office of Research, UNICEF Ghana and the University of Ghana are collaborating on a set of joint papers tackling topical issues in social protection. These include urban social protection, social accountability and citizenship and ‘cash plus’ models. More details

Social Cash Transfer Programme Zambia

To develop an innovative methodology that rigorously engages with the views, experiences and perceptions of cash transfer programme beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries, and also explores the wider social and political impacts of social cash transfer programmes. More details

Technical Assistance for the Development of Social Protection Strategy in Swaziland

In November 2012, UNDP, UNICEF and WFP organised a high-level social protection policy dialogue with the Government of Swaziland and other development partners. Subsequently, the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) appointed a technical committee to develop a Joint UN Programme for Social Protection in Swaziland. The ultimate objective of the national dialogue was to generate background material towards developing a draft national policy and strategy on social protection. More details

The Political Economy Determinants of Policy Implementation: The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in India

The IDS led strand of the project will address the role of state capacity and elite commitment in explaining NREGS implementation through qualitative methods at two different levels of analysis. More details

UK-Brazil Learning Exchange on Food and Nutrition Policy

IDS and Food Foundation partner with Brazilian researchers to explore mutual learning on food and nutrition security policy, bringing together parliamentarians, civil society and policy actors to discuss best practice. More details

Understanding Implications of Household Risk and Social Protection in the Afghan Context of Conflict and Fragility

Patricia Justino will (i) co-lead research and authorship for a background paper (and related publications) on household risk, behaviour, and policy options in the Afghanistan context of conflict and, (ii) for a social safety net impact evaluation, contribute to instrument design, analysis, and interpretation of results, especially with respect to conflict-related issues. More details

Understanding the Social Protection Implications of Changing Demographics in Rwanda

In order to inform discussions of social protection policy options in the short-, medium-, and long-term, this study collected and analysed both quantitative and qualitative data on the experiences of older people in Rwanda, along with the wider literature and evidence base from the region and beyond. It also undertook a detailed policy simulation exercise to assess both the needs of older people and the impact of policy options. More details

Where next for social protection?

This project will examine the future of social protection and the major issues and debates that are likely to dominate thinking around these issues in the next 5-10 years. More details

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View all Research Theme's publications

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Getting the Most Out of Participatory Impact Assessment: Reflections from a Multi-Country Cash Transfer Impact Assessment

CDI Practice Paper 19 (2018)

Mixed methods approaches are widely used in impact evaluations, but all too often a ‘methodological gap’ emerges between broad, large-scale surveys and in-depth, small-scale qualitative investigation that can be difficult to bridge. More details


Ideas from IDS: Graduate Papers from 2016/17

Paper (2018)

It gives me great pleasure to present this first edition of published term papers authored by IDS graduates (2016/17) from across our suite of master’s degrees. More details

Non-IDS publication

Welfare Spending and Political Conflict in Latin America, 1970-2010

World Development 107 (2018)

In this article we study an age-old question in political economy: does government spending on welfare ensure peace? This question was at the heart of the European Welfare State model of the early 20th century, and remains relevant today in face of rising inequalities and political conflict. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Haiti: Who are the Ultra Poor? Fonkoze’s Programme for the Ultra Poor

The results testify to the ultra poverty of CLM households. They underline the importance of the graduation model in addressing poverty in Haiti and the case for its incorporation within the national social protection framework More details

Non-IDS publication

Freebook: Pathways to Health and Sustainability

This is a Free Book available to download from the publisher. This new collection draws on four books in the series, together addressing three themes central to understanding how pathways to sustainability emerge in response to health and disease challenges. More details


What Are the Implications of Ageing and Demographic Change in Rwanda?

IDS Policy Briefing 150 (2018)

Having made rapid improvements in life expectancy and fertility as a result of significant investments in the health system and reductions in poverty, Rwanda faces the positive prospects of a ‘demographic dividend’. However, the projected growth in the number of older people over the next 30 years will present significant challenges. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Linking taxation and social protection: Evidence on redistribution and poverty reduction in Ethiopia

Although redistribution results from the simultaneous effects of taxes and transfers, analyses of their distributional effects in low?income countries have largely been undertaken from singular perspectives. This article jointly assesses the distributional effect of taxes and transfers (through social protection) using Ethiopia as a case study. More details

Social Protection and the World Food Programme

WFP commissioned this Occasional Paper from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) to examine the relationship between food security, nutrition and social protection and to identify WFP’s potential contribution. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Poverty, voice and advocacy: a Haitian study

Over the past ten years, Fonkoze (a non-profit organisation in Haiti) has adapted the 'graduation' model of lifting families out of extreme poverty through its Chemen Lavi Miyò (CLM) or 'pathway to a better life' programme. Yet despite international recognition for this approach, Fonkoze’s work is little known within Haitian policy circles on social protection and poverty. More details


The Influence of Policy and Legal Frameworks on the Development of National Social Protection Systems

IDS Working Paper 501 (2017)

Social protection in low and lower middle-income countries is slowly but steadily becoming more systematised. Policy and legal frameworks are widely considered to be crucial for the creation of social protection systems. More details

Policy Brief entitled Cash Plus in Practice.  Integrating nutrition and access to services in the PSNP in Ethiopia.

Cash Plus in Practice: Integrating Nutrition and Access to Services in the PSNP in Ethiopia

The fourth phase of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP4) was launched in 2015, introducing several innovations designed to strengthen the programme and its multiple impacts. More details

Cash for Care? Researching the Linkages Between Social Protection and Children's Care in Rwanda

Social protection is increasingly considered to be a powerful intervention for responding to concerns around children’s care. This chapter considers the impact of social protection on child well-being, quality of care, family reunification, and the incentivization of foster or kinship care in Rwanda. More details

Research Report entitled Cash Plus - Integrated Nutrition and Social Cash Transfer (IN-SCT) Pilot in Ethiopia: Perceptions and Feedback from clients and service providers

Cash 'Plus' - Integrated Nutrition and Social Cash Transfer (IN-SCT) Pilot in Ethiopia: Perceptions and Feedback from Clients and Service Providers

The Integrated Nutrition Social Cash Transfer (IN-SCT) pilot project is embedded within phase 4 of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme phase 4 (PSNP4), and is being implemented in four PSNP woredas, two in Oromia region and two in SNNPR. u More details

IDS publications on international development research

How to Make 'Cash Plus' Work: Linking Cash Transfers to Services and Sectors

The broad-ranging benefits of cash transfers are now widely recognized. However, the evidence base highlights that they often fall short in achieving longer-term and second-order impacts related to nutrition, learning outcomes and morbidity. More details

This is the front cover of the Midline Report entitled 'Evaluation of the UNICEF Social Cash Transfer Pilot Programme in SNNPR, Ethiopia'

Evaluation of the UNICEF Social Cash Transfer Pilot Programme in SNNPR, Ethiopia. Midline Report Final

Midline Report (2017)

This report presents midline findings for the Integrated Nutrition Social Cash Transfer (IN-SCT) pilot project in SNNPR in Ethiopia. More details


Shame, Poverty and Social Protection

IDS Working Paper 489 (2017)

Despite long-standing conceptual considerations of shame in understanding poverty and debates about its moral, social and emotional qualities, the role of shame in poverty reduction policies remains largely unexplored. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Linking Taxation and Social Protection: Evidence on Redistribution and Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia

ICTD Working Paper 61 (2017)

This paper aims to jointly assess the distributional effect of taxes and transfers, through social protection, using Ethiopia as a case study. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Improving Child Wellbeing and Care in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Social Protection

Children and Youth Services Review 73 (2016)

This article presents findings from cross-country qualitative research regarding the impact of social protection on loss of parental care, support to foster or kinship care and quality of care and wellbeing in Sub-Saharan Africa. More details


Strengthening Citizenship: Social Grants and the State–Citizen Relationship in South Africa

IDS Working Paper 482 (2016)

This study uses a citizenship lens to consider the extent to which social grants strengthen or weaken the state–citizen relationship, examining the case of the Child Support Grant in South Africa. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Sustaining Impacts: Concern Worldwide's Graduation Programme in Rwanda

This briefing paper is based on the final evaluation report of the 'Graduation Programme', in the Southern Province of Rwanda. More details

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Poverty is also a psychosocial problem

20 Nov 2017
By Keetie Roelen

Global and national leadership in nutrition

12 Sep 2016
By Nicholas Nisbett

Graduation – how to do it responsibly

24 May 2016
By Stephen Devereux, Keetie Roelen, Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Putting children at the centre of social protection in Nepal

23 May 2016
By Keetie Roelen, Helen Karki Chettri
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