Negative perceptions of social protection transfers continue to influence national and international anti-poverty agendas. Most of the concerns raised are based on misconceptions. This briefing outlines evidence that demolishes some of the myths concerning social protection. Social protection can be affordable, even in poor countries, and can be financed sustainably in the medium-term. In the short-term predictable donor resources are needed in many countries. Social protection can both alleviate and enable people to escape poverty as transfers are invested in productive activities, human development and improving nutrition - the extent to which they can achieve this depends on the size of the transfer and on programme design. There is very little evidence that they promote 'dependency' in poor countries. Whether and how social protection should be targeted depends on the nature of poverty and specific social and political circumstances; targeting can increase the proportion of resources reaching the chronically poor, but it can also exclude them; in some contexts, targeted programmes may have most political support; elsewhere universal programmes create important social solidarity and support for social protection. Potential misuse of social protection transfers can be avoided by delivering benefits through trusted institutions, ensuring recipients are informed of their entitlements, creating strong oversight mechanisms and minimising opportunities for corruption.
CPRC Policy Brief No.3, Chronic Poverty Research Centre, London, UK, 6 pp.