Where next for social protection?

Social protection is one of the success stories of development policy in the early 21st century. Every year, more countries adopt a National Social Protection Policy or Strategy, new programmes are launched, and evaluations build the evidence base of impressively positive impacts.

This trajectory prompts our research question: where next for social protection? Will it expand, plateau or decline? Will social protection continue to grow both conceptually and operationally, will it consolidate its position in government and donor policy, or will it prove to be just another development fashion that fades away in the coming years?

This project aims to address a number of questions:

  • Is social protection likely to become more or less prominent in development policy in the coming years? 
  • Which key factors and actors are likely to shape the evolution of the social protection agenda? 
  • What major issues and debates will dominate social protection thinking and practice in the next 5-10 years? 
  • At the global level, will regional differences in social protection persist, or is there likely to be convergence around a set of standardised social protection policies? 
  • At the national level, what practical challenges will countries face in building comprehensive social protection systems? 

A variety of methods will be used to gain insight into these questions, seeking to tap into a broad range of perspectives on the field of social protection. Methods include a literature review, interviews, online discussion and scenario-planning workshops.

Key contacts

Project details

start date
8 August 2014
end date
8 August 2017


About this project

Programmes and centres
Centre for Social Protection

Recent work

Journal Article

Where Next for Social Protection?

IDS Bulletin 47.4

The rapid ascendancy of social protection up the development policy agenda in the past ten to 15 years raises questions about whether its current prominence will be sustained, or whether it will turn out to be just another development fad that declines and ultimately disappears.

17 March 2015