Social Policy and Poverty in East Asia: The Role of Social Security
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And recent studies that compare conditional and unconditional transfers suggest that health conditions do indeed matter  , . A few studies have recently reviewed the targeting effectiveness of social transfer programs. Coady et al. Devereux at al. At the same time, Devereux et al. There are also debates on the technical part of targeting. For example, Coady and Skoufias  suggest an alternative approach to evaluate targeting mechanisms by decomposing their effects into two, targeting efficiency of the instrument and redistributive efficiency.
Azevedo and Robles  conclude that a multidimensional targeting approach should be applied in order to increase the efficiency of conditional cash transfers. The NSTP data allows conducting further research on the comparison and effectiveness of targeting methods. Not surprisingly due to the complexity of the relationships, the evidence is weakest for a positive effect of social transfer programs on social inclusion and economic growth . The NSTP data could, for example, be used to analyse the link between certain types or design characteristics of social transfer programs and human development outcomes.
In addition, the NSTP data can contribute to measuring income and redistribution; especially in the regions with poor national statistics see for a discussion . Women's empowerment is another research topic, for which the NSTP dataset can provide interesting statistics for cross-country perspective. Duflo  reviews that women's empowerment is closely linked to human capital accumulation and self-sustainable development.
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Regarding the affordability of social assistance, one strand of literature stresses a moral argument for assisting the poor and reducing risk by providing a minimum safety net  ,  , . Another line of research focuses on modelling the cost of basic social protection  , .
The third perspective on affordability concerns the sources of finance  , . This debate also centres on whether and how people working in the informal sector can be made to contribute financially to social protection  , . Further questions include the political acceptance of certain types of assistance  ,  and the labour market effects of extensions to social security  , .
An interesting application of the NSTP data could therefore be to examine the effects of the adoption of specific types of social transfer programs on labour supply or the productive capacity of the poor. Another important part of the literature is the research on the politics of social assistance. In this emerging subfield the main questions involve how social transfer programs promoted by international donors contribute to building state capacity and how the design and implementation of such programs are eroded by corruption, clientelism, and other political motives.
Indeed, a number of interesting insights emerge from the analysis of the motivations for adopting social transfer programs in developing countries.
The recent studies show that social transfer programs are not chosen primarily because of poverty reduction but are also driven by other mechanisms not related to pro-poor motives  ,  , . In particular, political leaders may use social policy in order to strengthen their rule. In democratic regimes, social benefits can be a tool to gain or reward voters  ,  ,  , . Autocracies may use transfers to mitigate social unrest by increasing the standard of living of the poor or they may channel benefits to their supporters  ,  , .
There is an emerging literature on how social transfers decrease non-electoral forms of political participation such as protests and demonstration attendance . In addition, leaders in both regime types may enact social policies as a response to pressure from international donors or neighbouring countries  ,  ,  , . In what follows, we use the NSTP dataset to provide suggestive evidence on the political economy of social transfer programs. We consider whether political motives or institutions affect the design of transfer programs.
Political regimes particularly influence the scope and structure of social policy. Hence, we focus on additional factors not related to purely pro-poor motives that shape social policy in developing countries. First, we explore the prevalence of transfer programs in democracies versus non-democracies.
Of all the developing countries, 12 per cent of democracies and 12 per cent of non-democracies had a transfer program in We see that starting in the mids, the share of countries with at least one social transfer program increased steadily in all regime types, though significantly more in the case of democracies. In , 75 per cent of countries classified as democracies and only 60 per cent of countries classified as non-democracies had at least one transfer program. Share of developing democracies and non-democracies with a transfer program, — Note: The data on the polity score extends until Of the programs for which we have information on the polity type in the year of adoption of a program, 81 50 per cent were adopted by democratic countries, 58 36 per cent were adopted by anocracies, and 23 14 per cent by autocracies.
Second, we explore systematic differences in the types of transfer programs according to regime type. We see that starting from the mids, the number of both types of programs increased steadily in both regime types. In total, more transfer programs were adopted in democracies, with the total number in being roughly twice the number of programs in non-democracies versus In , democracies had 60 47 per cent conditional programs and 68 53 per cent unconditional programs, while non-democracies had 23 37 per cent conditional programs and 39 63 per cent unconditional ones.
Regarding the subcategories of programs in , democracies had 40 unconditional family support programs 30 per cent , 30 pension schemes 23 per cent , 47 CCTs 36 per cent , and 14 public works programs 11 per cent. Non-democracies had 28 unconditional family support programs 45 per cent , 11 pension schemes 19 per cent , 14 CCTs 22 per cent , and 8 public works programs 13 per cent.
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Transfer program types in democracies and non-democracies, — There thus appears to be a correlation between a higher score on the polity scale and having a social transfer program. This is in line with the literature on the link between regime type and redistribution, according to which democratic countries are more likely to have social transfer programs  , . Moreover, we see that democracies apply more programs with human capital investments. This is very probably connected to the fact that democracies care more about the long-term developmental effects of pro-poor policies .
We can assume that non-democracies are interested in more unconditional transfer programs because the latter provide faster short-term effects, which help regimes to sustain power and decrease civil unrest in a society.
Social Policy for Inclusive Development
Finally, we are interested in the choice of targeting mechanisms, and specifically their potential to be used for political reasons in different regime types. It appears that programs with a certain type of targeting are promoted more in non-democracies because they may be more easily manipulated in the interest of local elites or politicians. We see that geographical targeting is used by 19 per cent of programs in non-democracies and 15 per cent in democracies. Community-based targeting is also more prominent in non-democracies: 19 per cent of programs there use this method versus 8 per cent of programs in democracies.
Proxy means tests are used more frequently in democracies, where they have a share of 15 per cent as opposed to a share of 9 per cent in non-democracies. Categorical targeting is also applied more in democracies, with this method used by 41 per cent of programs versus 32 per cent in non-democracies. Means tests and self-targeting are equally present in both regime types and represent approximately 15 and 5 per cent of all programs, respectively. These shares indicate systematic differences in the choice of targeting mechanisms between regime types. Targeting mechanisms by regime type in Note : The data on the polity score extends until As already mentioned, two targeting mechanisms are particularly dominant in non-democracies: community-based targeting and geographical targeting.
When beneficiary selection is undertaken by a third party, it can be expected that this third party will act according to motives that are not in line with providing the most accurate pro-poor targeting. As a result, a possible explanation for why community-based programs are applied more often in non-democracies is that they leave room for subjective or politically motivated decisions in the allocation of benefits .
The rent-seeking and clientelistic motives of community leaders may distort the efficiency of such targeting in non-democracies, while also making this type of targeting more attractive. Moreover, this form of targeting can perpetuate local power structures, and certain minorities can be systematically excluded. Especially in combination with other targeting mechanisms, geographical targeting may become more political than pro-poor.
From our perspective, other interesting applications of the NSTP data could include analyses of the diffusion of certain types of social transfer programs across regions or the relationship between transfer programs and state capacity. The financial support provided is gratefully acknowledged. The authors are very grateful to Daniel Neff for his useful comments.
The usual disclaimer applies. Information on pensions for the disabled and widows is included where the former are a part of general non-contributory old-age pensions. The polity score classifies countries on a scale of to Countries with a score above 5 are classified as democracies, countries with a polity score between -5 and 5 are classified as anocracies, and countries with a polity score below -5 are classified as autocracies. Information on the polity score only extends until Hence, the numbers given here exceed the total number of programs in Transparency document Transparency data associated with this article can be found in the online version at doi National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.
Journal List Data Brief v. Data Brief. Published online Nov 3. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Marina Dodlova: moc. Associated Data Supplementary Materials Supplementary material. Abstract Social transfer programs in developing countries are designed to contribute to poverty reduction by increasing the income of the poor in order to ensure minimal living standards.
Introduction Social protection programs can be an important instrument in fighting poverty and protecting the vulnerable. Data The Non-Contributory Social Transfer Programs NSTP in Developing Countries Dataset aims to provide a comprehensive overview of progressive and institutionalised social transfer programs that are intended to mitigate poverty and, often, to incentivise households to invest in long-term development to escape from poverty. Open in a separate window.
Typology of transfers and conditions We distinguish between unconditional and conditional transfers. Table 2 Frequency of targeting methods in Table 1 Types of social transfer programs. Targeting Another characteristic of social transfer programs is the targeting mechanism used to determine eligibility for a program. Cost and coverage The most important characteristics of social assistance programs are their budget and coverage — that is, how expensive they are and how many beneficiaries they have.
Delivery The benefits provided by social transfer programs are predominantly distributed in cash. Donors Since the s the expansion of social transfer programs has been actively promoted by international donors . Pilots The database captures information on nine social transfer programs that were being piloted in Research agenda In the following, we briefly review some of the main strands of the literature on the effectiveness and efficiency of social policy in developing countries, highlighting gaps that could be addressed using the NSTP data. The politics of pro-poor policies Another important part of the literature is the research on the politics of social assistance.
Transparency document. Supplementary material Supplementary material Click here to view. References 1. Khan S. Safety net, social protection, and sustainable poverty reduction: a review of the evidences and arguments for developing countries, IOSR.
Leisering L. Extending social security to the excluded: are social cash transfers to the poor an appropriate way of fighting poverty in developing countries? Barrientos A. Social assistance in developing countries database Version 5. MPRA Pap. Marshall, T.