The State of Social Safety Nets 2018 – World Bank

Human Rights/Poverty/Governance

The State of Social Safety Nets 2018
World Bank
2018 :: 189 pages
The State of Social Safety Nets 2018 Report examines global trends in the social safety net/social assistance coverage, spending, and program performance based on the World Bank Atlas of Social Protection Indicators of Resilience and Equity (ASPIRE) updated database. The report documents the main social safety net programs that exist globally and their use to alleviate poverty and to build shared prosperity. The 2018 report expands on the 2015 edition, both in administrative and household survey data coverage. A distinct mark of this report is that, for the first time, it tells the story of what happens with SSN/SA programs spending and coverage over time, when the data allow us to do so. This 2018 edition also features two special themes: Social Assistance and Ageing, focusing on the role of old-age social pensions, and Adaptive Social Protection, focusing on what makes SSN systems/programs adaptive to various shocks.


Press Release
Social Safety Net Programs Help Millions Escape Poverty, But Coverage Gaps Persist
WASHINGTON, April 4, 2018— Among the very poor who received safety net benefits, 36% escaped extreme poverty, providing clear evidence that social safety net programs are making a substantial impact in the global fight against poverty, says a new World Bank Group report. The impact of social safety nets on poverty is measured based on available household data from 79 countries by comparing the welfare of the safety nets beneficiaries to what it would have been had they not received such support.

Data from the State of the Social Safety Nets 2018 report shows that safety nets—which include cash, in-kind transfers, social pensions, public works, and school feeding programs targeted to poor and vulnerable households—also lower inequality, and reduce the poverty gap by about 45 percent, even if they do not emerge from poverty. These positive effects of safety net transfers hold true for low and middle-income countries alike.

Despite the increased adoption of safety net programs by countries in recent years, global coverage of poor and vulnerable people remains inadequate. About 2.5 billion people worldwide are covered by a social safety net, of which 650 million are in the poorest 20 ercent. However, only one out of five persons living in a low-income country is covered by a social safety net.

Furthermore, countries at high risk of natural disasters often have lower safety net coverage.

Developing and transition countries spend an average of 1.5 percent of GDP on social safety net programs. Many countries are spending more on such programs because they see the impact they make on poverty reduction. Countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia regions are also introducing flagship social safety net programs and are rapidly expanding coverage. For example, in Senegal, the flagship National Cash Transfer Program expanded swiftly from 3 to 16 percent of the population in just four years, while in the Philippines, the Pantawid conditional cash transfer program has expanded from 5 to 20 percent of the population since 2010…

Despite the evident aging trend, most countries do not have systems and benefits that can fully cover elderly people or their special needs. While nearly 90 percent of Organization for Economic Co-opeation and Development (OECD) economies have old age social pensions, only 70 percent of Latin America and the Caribbean economies, and nearly 65 percent of Europe and Central Asian do…