Positioning Paper

Social Protection and Building Back Better

Published on 30 September 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant sweeping changes for economies and societies, with the most devastating consequences for individuals and groups with pre-existing vulnerabilities. These impacts are likely to be compounded in contexts with greater fragility.

As attention shifts from addressing urgent humanitarian needs and crafting quick response systems to long-term solutions, it is time to think about the role of social protection as part of a longer-term solution to living with Covid-19, as well as supporting efforts to build back better. This paper considers how social protection can offer support and be supported in short, medium- and long-term responses, under different scenarios for how the pandemic might unfold. Planning must anticipate the possibility of an enduring pandemic, one stretching over many years if not decades. Thus, the expansion of social protection should not be limited to a short-term response to immediate needs. Rather, Covid-19 presents an opportunity to establish firm foundations for more comprehensive social protection systems for years to come, including leveraging greater domestic expenditure and international assistance.

Cite this publication

Lind, J.; Roelen, K. and Sabates-Wheeler, R. (2020) Social Protection and Building Back Better, Positioning Paper, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies


Jeremy Lind

Research Fellow

Keetie Roelen

IDS Honorary Associate

Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Rural Futures Cluster Lead

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Supported by
Irish Aid

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published by
Institute of Development Studies


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