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Social Protection and the Poor in Bangladesh Qaiser Khan, Kalanidhi Subbarao, Josh Al-Zayed and Shaikh S. Ahmed, World Bank Presented at Conference on What Works for the Poorest: Knowledge, Policies and Practices Dec 3 -5, 2006, BRAC Center, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Social Protection Goes Beyond Poverty alleviation u u Social Protection includes poverty alleviation and safety net programs but it goes beyond to address risks and vulnerabilities Social protection is increasingly important for countries like Bangladesh which are transiting from a rural economy where traditional safety nets work well to an industrial economy where new safety net tools are needed
Risk, poverty and vulnerability u Risk: – uncertain event that may damage people’s wellbeing u Poverty: – not having enough now of something valuable u Vulnerability: – probability now of not having enough of something valuable in the future
Why do we care about vulnerability? 1. Poverty vulnerability in theory nor in practice Chronic poor could be seen as the very vulnerable, temporary poor as the vulnerable, and the non-poor as non-vulnerable to poverty but vulnerable to income fluctuations nonetheless.
Social risk management matrix
Type of Shocks – useful classifications
Need for Social Protection Some recent poverty thinking: u Income distribution matters for growth…. u Distribution of assets matters more. u Growth helps the poor, but level of investment is most important implication? : transfers, but not at cost of investment. u Transfers themselves as an investment, in human capital – e. g. nutrition, education
Three Constraints to Safety Nets in Very-Low-Income Countries u The Information Constraint u The Administrative Constraint u The Fiscal Constraint
What is Possible? (I) The Information Constraint u u Information - not known, expensive (e. g. pensions elsewhere) Proxy indicators e. g. demographic, dwelling Link to another program (e. g. PWP, nutrition) 3 Ways around the Information constraint: Self-targeting Community targeting Universal programs
Self-targeting u Two examples – u Public workfare programs with a wage rate slightly below the market wage – enables participants to selfselect themselves into the program u Food subsidies – if restricted to types of food consumed only by the poor, self-targeting is possible
What is Possible? (II) Community Targeting u u u Communities, or representatives identify beneficiaries (subject to criteria), deliver benefits Information may be better, lower cost Risks: favoritism, difficulties of inclusion/exclusion; divisive. Administrative support. Remarkably little experience Rajasthan, Malawi, Uzbekistan Generally limited (e. g. Armenia) , jury still out.
What is Possible? (III) The Administrative Constraint u u Weak capacity, labor-intensive, supervisory staff Policy implications? – Choose simple program designs – Simple, repetitive steps, sustain over a long period – Choose a few simple, nationwide programs – Explore possibility of using existing administrative systems.
What is Possible? (IV) The Fiscal Constraint - Typically VLIC total public expenditure spending $50 -75 p. c. p. a. - Illustratively: $20 per annum ($1. 67/month) to 40% below poverty line = 21% of public spending; not affordable. - No way of defining ‘right’ mix, but some programs can reach the poorest groups if carefully designed
Program Choices u Cash Transfers - Selected, Universal (e. g. pensions, unemployment) u Public Works: self-targeting, create assets, counter-cyclical but Expensive ($2/$1 transferred); critical get wage rate right; create ‘good’ assets; costs can be reduced if quality assets created u Food Programs - Free Dist’n, Food-for -Work, Food Stamps, School Feeding. Food Subsidies/Free food/Conditional transfers u Agricultural Inputs - Subsidies, Free u Packs u Nutrition Programs - Child nutrition, micro-nutrient supplementation
Problems with Food distribution programs Seasonal Price/Supply Smoothing Potentially attractive in VLICs. Options: NFR, buy surplus, release stocks; controlled food grain price Risks: captured by non-poor (urban consumers, middle-men for re-sale) u Gov’t cannot afford to intervene on sufficient scale (high cost, ultimately ineffective) u discourages dev’t of private markets Prefer: Arms length interventions, make use of trade option as did Bangladesh; buy-sell at commercial prices, influence aggregate supply, check if market failure exists
Conditional food/cash transfers u Where possible, useful to link free transfers (either food or cash) to behavioral change from recipients: for example, transfers could be conditional upon children in the family attending the school, or getting vaccinated etc. Known as “conditional cash transfers”, highly successful in Bangladesh, Mexico, Nicaragua, Turkey and now being implemented in several countries
Effectiveness of Safety Net Programs in Bangladesh Targeting Effectiveness Measured as Ratio of Recipients to group size by Income Group (2005 -06) Lowest 10% Lowest Quintile 2 nd Quintile 3 rd Quintile 4 th Quintile Top Quintile Total VGD 1. 61 1. 59 1. 46 0. 96 0. 73 0. 27 100 Test Relief 1. 80 1. 89 1. 10 0. 91 0. 74 0. 36 100 VGF 1. 80 1. 89 1. 10 0. 91 0. 74 0. 36 100 Other Targeted 1. 96 1. 81 1. 24 1. 04 0. 66 0. 26 100 Total Targeted 1. 79 1. 73 1. 29 0. 98 0. 72 0. 29 100
Selection Criteria viewed by Recipients in Bangladesh 2005 -06 Reason of inclusion in targeted programs in percent 2005 -06 Poor/ Landless Divorced/ Widows Non-Targeted 50. 4 12. 7 15. 7 21. 2 100. 0 Targeted 82. 3 6. 3 2. 8 8. 6 100. 0 Total 70. 2 8. 7 7. 7 13. 4 100. 0 Disabled/ Others Total
Recipient’s Perceptions of Bangladesh Programs 2005 -2006 Participants Perception about assistance from targeted programs in percent Lowest 10 % Lowest Quintile 2 nd Quintile 3 rd Quintile 4 th Quintile Top Quintile Total Very Helpful 60. 5 56. 1 56. 7 59. 2 63. 6 50. 4 57. 6 Moderately Helpful 33. 8 37. 3 34. 1 30. 9 26. 5 31. 5 33. 3 Slightly Helpful 5. 8 6. 6 8. 3 9. 1 8. 9 18. 1 8. 5 Not Helpful 0. 0 0. 9 1. 1 0. 0 0. 5
Estimates of Leakage from the VGD, VGF and FFE Program 2000 HIESbased survey estimates (metric tons) 95% Confidence Interval for estimate VGD 99, 978 VGF FFE 70, 760 49, 951 Program Offtake for FY 19992000 (metric tons) Survey estimate as % of total program allocation (confidence intervals) [72, 894, 127, 061] 216, 675 [34%– 59%] [44, 251, 97, 267] 149, 138 [30%– 65%] [27, 192, 72, 710] 285, 973 [10%– 25%]
Comparative Losses from Different Programs Leakage VGD PESP RMP A. Losses due to delivery of amount less than stipulated and other unauthorized expenses (per taka) 0. 17 0. 23 0. 02 B(i)…at least one targeting criteria 0. 00 0. 11 0. 00 B(ii)…at least three targeting criteria 0. 61 0. 98 0. 00 …A+B(i) 0. 17 0. 34 0. 02 …A+B(ii) 0. 78 1. 22 0. 02 B. Losses due to beneficiaries not meeting… Total Losses….
What the data shows u Bangladesh targeting criteria is good at targeting the poorest u Bangladesh programs are perceived by the beneficiaries as helpful specially the poorest u Relatively high leakage from food based programs and despite popular assumptions they are not better targeted
What the data does not show Programs are very rural focused but the country is getting rapidly urbanized with increasing proportion of the poor living in urban areas u Programs have significant administrative leakages u Too many programs run by too many Government departments and thus a large administrative overhead which can be reduced and used to provide benefits u Too many layers of decision making in selection of beneficiaries u
Old Age Income support in Bangladesh- a rapid evolution
Grameen Bank’s Pension Saving Scheme Growing rapidly
Way to the future u u u Rationalize programs by using the one player that gets involved in all programs i. e. union parishads. Expand the better safety net programs such as old age pensions, Public works and widow/ disability payments using UPs to select beneficiaries and distribute benefits Build on Bangladesh’s massive micro-finance network to provide social protection for those just above the poorest – e. g. Grameen Bank already provides pensions and insurance (life and health to over 6. 5 million members.
Illustration of new urban poverty and vulnerability challenge
Addressing the Urban Poverty Challenge u In an ironic reversal of history, enrollment rates in metro areas for the poorest quintiles are worse than rural areas – this represents both past successes in rural areas and new challenges in urban areas. u New approaches to urban safety nets and safety ladders are needed
Move to ex-ante risk management from ex-poste risk coping Bangladesh current programs are characterized by ex-poste risk coping programs with the possible exception of Grameen’s pension scheme u New programs need to address ex-ante risk management. They could include expanded pensions, health insurance, unemployment insurance, catastrophic risk insurance i. e. floods. u