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Social Protection, Entrepreneurship and Labour Market Activation: Evidence for Better Policies: Seminar Day 1

Despite the progressive endorsement of social protection in Latin America and across the developing world, policy debates have emerged concerning the impact of social protection on labour supply and women’s empowerment. Critics argue that social grants generate dependence, disincentivisework and can reinforce traditional gender roles. A shortage of in-depth research on their impact has undermined initiatives of addressing such criticism. Therefore, to engage in these debates, Canada´s International Development Research Centre(IDRC), the UNDP International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) and the Colombian Think Tank Fedesarrollo organized a seminar to discuss social protection and its linkages to jobs, entrepreneurship and women’s economic empowerment. The event was held in celebration of the IPC-IG’s 10 year anniversary, at the Ipea Headquarters in Brasilia on 10-11 September, marking theUnited Nations day for South-South Cooperation(September 12th).


Photo Credit: Amélie Courau, IPC-UNDP

The International Seminar built upon the policy-oriented research supported by IDRC’s Supporting Inclusive Growth Programme. It provided a space for international experts and policymakers to take stock of recent research findings and lessons learnt and discuss policy recommendations. The results of the seminar are to be synthesized in a report highlighting the findings from of the seminar research and debates.  Furthermore, a special issue of “Policy in Focus” to be launched in 2015 will provide insight into the continuation of the exploration of issues raised during the seminar.A closing cocktail concluded the event, held in honour of the IPC-IG’s 10 year anniversary.


Day 1: Wednesday September 10th

Day one of the event commenced with an Opening Session including welcoming words by Federico Burone (Regional Director, Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office, IDRC), Jorge Chediek (Director of IPC-IG and UNDP Resident Representative in Brazil) and Marcelo Neri (Brazilian Minister of the Secretariat of Strategic Affairs of the Presidency of Republic, SAE/PR).


Photo Credit: Amélie Courau, IPC-UNDP

Minister Neri testified to the success of the IPC-IG and the fruitful decade that it has experienced, while Jorge Chediek recognised how social protection policies have been afforded increasing legitimacy in contributing to the reduction of poverty, and how the IPC-IG has served as an “academic pioneers” in documenting this development. He went further to note the role of the IPC- as a centre of excellence in research contributing to a world without poverty. Frederico Burone welcomed the initiative of hosting the Seminar and stressed the important collaboration between researchers and policymakers from different countries in order to understand how social protection policies foster employment and economic opportunities for all.

The first Session titled “Social Protection programmes and impacts on labour markets” began with a presentation by Rafael Ribas (University of Amsterdam) exploring the “Direct and Indirect Effects of Bolsa Família on Entrepreneurship”. He investigated how Bolsa Família effects the decision making of beneficiaries to become entrepreneurs or increase their income through entrepreneurship. Using Brazil’s national household survey, he established that entrepreneurial activities are more influenced by informal credit and private transfers than shifting the aggregate demand, thereby impacting upon the informal sector of the economy.

Ingrid Woolard (SALDRU/UCT) then presented on “The impact of South Africa’s social grants on youth’s labour market outcomes”. Woolard pointed to the exceptionally low youth employment rate in South Africa (15per cent) and how 45 per cent of South African youth are recipients of some form of grant, usually the Child Support Grant. She noted the conservative policy discourse that exists in South Africa, leading to an erroneous impression that such grants cause unemployment. On this count she presented a study of households in the KwaZulu-Natal province which indicated that grants have a positive impact on youth education and, therefore, policy makers should consider expanding direct benefits to the youth. Leonardo Gasparini provided commentary, stating how the size of such transfers relates to the size of the effect on beneficiaries.

Ben Davis (FAO) then presented on “Social Transfers in Sub-Saharan Africa and its impact on labour market outcomes”, illustrating how “social objectives are conditioned by livelihoods – and visa-versa” in labour needs, food consumption and intra-household decision-making. Therefore there is a non-separability between production and consumption in agricultural households. He went on to point out how policy makers are concerned about transfers leading to dependency despite them being found to improve human capital, strengthen social networks and relax market failure constraints. He noted how predictability of payments and the demographic profile of beneficiaries in Sub-Saharan Africa contribute to achieving such positive impacts. He concluded by stating how beneficiaries are hardworking and responsible for their income generation and food security, meaning grants have an impact on labour allocation and do not generate dependency.

Rafael Ribas provided commentary, recognising the potential for new technologies to generate an increase in GDP by facilitating engagement in more productive activities among communities with increased liquidity due to grants.

Cash transfers in Argentina: impacts on informality and female labour force participation” was then explored by Leonardo Gasparini (CEDLAS). Argentina’s Universal Child Allowance (AUH), the main social programme of Argentina, was found to have a substantial impact on poverty and inequality, however data on the programme is scarce. Gasparini noted the unintended outcome of the programme: disincentivising formal work, given that it only grants benefits to those in the informal sector. He therefore called for further discussion on alternative labour incentive programme designs.

Dev Nathan served as the discussant, reiterating the perverse impact of such thresholds, which incentivise lower productivity and growth. He advised that policies instead decide on a minimum standard of living and thus determine who is excluded from benefits.

A Plenary Debate followed titled “Taking stock: What have we learnt about the labour markets impacts of social protection? Key policy implications” moderated by Carolina Robino (IDRC). In this session, Ben Davis noted how transfers should not serve as a substitute for a labour market providing jobs. Ingrid Woolard further emphasised that existing grants for youth increase job search. Therefore diverse, widespread interventions need to be made in the labour market, most notably in rural areas, as having a job is an essential part of moving out of poverty.


Photo Credit: Amélie Courau, IPC-UNDP

Following lunch, Session Two, titled “Social Protection Programmes, labour markets, and women’s economic empowerment” commenced. The documentary presentation, “Beyond social protection: Extreme poverty, displacement and female empowerment: Evidence from an impact evaluation of Red UNIDOS in Colombia” was presented by Susana Martinez (Fedesarrollo). It demonstrated the impact of transfers and how they change the power dynamics within families. She showed how 30,6 per cent of Colombians are considered to be poor, with women representing the majority of that segment largely due to limited labour market participation and migration to urban areas due to violence in non-urban areas. She noted how this accounts for the Programme also offering psychological support with the aim of empowering women. Even so, the programme has not been found to have had a significant impact on women’s labour market participation, as jobs in Colombia are scarce and challenging. Estefanía Galván (IECON) served as discussant.

Social assistance, labour market intra-household decisions and bargaining power of women: evidence for Uruguay” was then presented by Galván. She explored the distributive effects of the family allowance programme on the household, not just the individual, to determine women’s empowerment. The programme is understood to have economically empowered women. Discussant, Alma Espino emphasised how we need to establish determinant factors contributing to bargaining power in the household.

Lorena Alcazar (GRADE) then presented on the “Impacts of Juntos on women empowerment: opportunities, challenges and next steps”, which included preliminary quantitative and qualitative analysis. The effects of Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT’s) on women’s empowerment in Peru was found to be of immense importance considering the role women play as child-rearers in contributing to human development. There was found to be an impact, albeit limited, on women’s empowerment. Susana Martinez provided commentary.

Social protection, entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment in India” was then presented by Dev Nathan (IHD). He illustrated how in South Asia many individuals are not registered at birth (63 per cent) and therefore are deprived of a registered, formal identity. He recognised how biometric identification has the capacity to eliminate this identity gap. More so, he recognised how in South Asia, women have a relational identity as that of mother, sister or wife. Knowing this, social programmes need to move to individual-based entitlements as granting agency to women has an impact on their empowerment. Direct transfers to women can thus provide women with control over money.

Nathan went on to note how in India there has been a move away from programmes granting commodity to cash entitlements. This formalizes rights and makes them more portable. The combination of unifying an identity registry and providing cash grants prevents duplication and ghost receivers. It is also essential to fostering entrepreneurship. He then highlighted Self Help Groups in India, as a model of community-based social protection that could serve as a duplicable model in other developing countries. Ingrid Woolard provided commentary.

Pension 65 and Beyond: Impact Evaluation of Pension 65 and its interactions with other mechanisms of social protection” was then presented by Juan José Díaz (GRADE). He noted the prospective goals and objectives of research on the programme to assess its impact and address its interaction with Juntos. Gary Mena provided commentary.

The final presentation of the day explored “Intended and unintended effects of unconditional cash transfers: The case of Bolivia´s Renta Dignidad” by Gary Mena (Fundación ARU). He recognised the gender inequalities that exist in the Bolivian labour market and how they had remained stable despite the institution of the Programme, with women earning about half of what men earn. He also noted how measuring women’s empowerment is complex and multidimensional. Juan José Díaz served as discussant.

The day concluded with a Plenary Debate, “Taking stock: What have we learnt about the labour markets and entrepreneurship impacts of social protection and women economic empowerment? Key policy implications”, moderated by Fabio Soares (IPC-IG).


Photo Credit: Amélie Courau, IPC-UNDP

All materials and outputs are available through the Seminar’s website under the Resources section.

For a summary of Day 2’s sessions, click here.

For a summary of Day 2’s Policy Forum, click here

Author: Ashleigh Kate Slingsby (The IPC-IG)

Short URL: http://pressroom.ipc-undp.org/?p=16583

Posted by on Sep 23 2014. Filed under Events, Featured News, Inclusive Growth, Partners, Slider, Social Protection, South-South Dialogue, Thematic Areas. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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