Journal Article


Graduating from Social Protection?

Published on 13 March 2015

To most people, graduation means leaving a school or university after completing a programme of study, once the learner has acquired a set of skills that is expected to equip them for a higher-income future livelihood.

In the development discourse, graduation means leaving a social protection programme after reaching a wellbeing threshold, once the participant has acquired a set of resources that is expected to equip them for a higher-income future livelihood. While poverty reduction is not a new idea, programming for graduation is a relatively new concept.

This IDS Bulletin reviews the conceptualisation and practice of graduation programmes across several countries and diverse contexts, describing what graduation is, how it works, and how to do it. The issue argues that as poverty reduction policies and ambitions for holistic social protection systems evolve, so should aspirations for graduation. Poverty is too complex to be solved with a single instrument such as cash transfers; graduation programmes strive to enhance livelihoods and strengthen resilience by providing integrated packages of support in a holistic effort to address the wide spectrum of resource deficits that keep people trapped in poverty and vulnerability. But the perfect package has not yet been designed. We need to understand the optimal combinations of support for people in different contexts, and the best ways to build linkages and maximise synergies across complementary sectoral interventions.

The achievements of graduation programmes are impressive, offering a fresh approach to tackling poverty and vulnerability. At a time when social protection is moving towards integrated systems and strengthening cross-sectoral linkages with complementary social and economic policies, graduation programmes add real value to efforts to build more secure, sustainable and resilient livelihoods.

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Table of contents


Graduating from Social Protection? Editorial Introduction Stephen Devereux and Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Exit or Developmental Impact? The Role of ‘Graduation’ in Social Protection Programmes Michael Samson

The ‘Two-fold Investment Trap’: Children and their Role in Sustainable Graduation Keetie Roelen


The Chars Livelihoods Programme in Bangladesh: Factors that Enable, Constrain and Sustain Graduation Matthew Pritchard, Stuart Kenward and Maksud Hannan

Evaluating Graduation: Insights from the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme in Rwanda Vincent Gahamanyi and Andrew Kettlewell

Evidence on Graduation in Practice: Concern Worldwide’s Graduation Programme in Rwanda Ricardo Sabates and Stephen Devereux

Sustaining Graduation: A Review of the CLM Programme in Haiti Chris Pain, Emilie Vautravers and Alain Descieux

Confidence, Capacity Building and Cash: Achieving Sustained Impact for Ultra-poor Women Kassie McIlvaine, Corey Oser, Julianna Lindsey and Maia Blume

Is Graduation from Social Safety Nets Possible? Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa Silvio Daidone, Luca Pellerano, Sudhanshu Handa and Benjamin Davis


Challenges of Measuring Graduation in Rwanda Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Samantha Yates, Emily Wylde and Justine Gatsinzi

Using Real-time Monitoring to Enhance Graduation from Extreme Poverty in Bangladesh Colin Risner and Vishal Gadhavi

Assets, Asset-ness and Graduation Sung Kyu Kim and Jim Sumberg

Social Protection and Graduation through Sustainable Employment Anna McCord and Rachel Slater

Stakeholder Perceptions on Graduation in Ethiopia and Rwanda Stephen Devereux and Martina Ulrichs


Image of Stephen Devereux

Stephen Devereux

Research Fellow

Image of Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Research Fellow

Publication details

published by
Devereux, S. et al.
Devereux, S. and Sabates-Wheeler, R.
IDS Bulletin, volume 46, issue 2


About this publication

Programmes and centres
Centre for Social Protection

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