The dedication of this issue of the IDS Bulletin to social protection testifies to the topic’s increasing importance in development discourse and policy. Holzman et al. (2003) describe the rise of social
protection within the World Bank.
They trace its rise at least in part to the recognition that vulnerability defines reality for many of the world’s poor. Vulnerability in turn distorts and mis-shapes people’s inter-temporal resource allocation behaviour – not only for those who are currently poor, but also for the non-poor, who are vulnerable to collapsing into poverty.
Because of these induced distortions, vulnerability is economically costly and contributes to the perpetuation of poverty over time.