Marina Dodlova / Anna Giolbas / Jann Lay

Non-Contributory Social Transfer Programmes in Developing Countries: A New Data Set and Research Agenda

GIGA Working Paper, No. 290, August 2016

Social transfer programmes in developing countries are designed to contribute to poverty reduction by increasing the income of the poor in order to ensure minimal living standards. In addition, social transfers provide a safety net for the vulnerable, who are typically not covered by contributory social security. The question of how effective such programmes are in achieving these aims has been the subject of numerous impact evaluations. However, the optimal design of such programmes is still unclear. Even less is known about whether the adoption and implementation of transfer programmes is really driven by poverty and neediness or whether other factors also have an influence. To investigate these and other research questions, we have developed a new data set entitled Non‐Contributory Social Transfer Programmes (NSTP) in Developing Countries. One advantage of this data set is that it traces 186 non‐contributory programmes from 101 countries back in time and presents them in panel form for the period up until 2015. The second advantage is that it contains all the details regarding the various programmes’ designs as well as information on costs and coverage in a coded format and thus facilitates both comparative quantitative and in‐depth qualitative analyses. While describing the data we discuss a number of examples of how the data set can be used to explore different issues related to social policies in developing countries. We present suggestive evidence that the adoption of social transfer programmes is not based only on pro‐poor motives, but rather that social policy choices differ between political regimes.

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GIGA Authors

Apl. Prof. Dr. Jann Lay heads the “Growth and Development” research programme at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA). He is also an adjunct professor of Development Economics at the University of Göttingen. His work ­focuses on various facets of economic development, including firm dynamics and ­labour markets, poverty and the distributional impact of economic reforms; the ­impacts of commercial agricultural expansion; and issues related to energy, ­climate, and development.

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