The ‘lifeline’ of social protection during COVID depends on where you live |


By providing new data on how spending on social assistance has mitigated the unprecedented economic shock wrought by the pandemic, the United Nations Development Fund ((United Nations Development Programme) Poverty alleviation The assessment revealed that, in the 41 countries for which data was available, about 12 million people were prevented from falling below the poverty line, out of 15 million at risk.

Rich countries are better fair

While the impact of general easing was strong, the study also revealed that it is largely limited to high- and middle-income countries.

Rich countries spent as much as 212 times per capita as poor countries, on social assistance.

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner pointed out that their ability to spend more on social protection measures, “played a critical role in moving people out of poverty”.

For lower middle-income countries, the report showed that spending on social assistance was not enough to avoid an increase in the number of people newly becoming poor, and in low-income countries it could not prevent any income losses at all.

“This lifeline depends on where you live,” the UNDP chief noted. “The challenge now is to expand the fiscal space to allow all countries to implement and sustain social assistance spending measures, which have proven to be a very cost-effective and effective way to prevent people from falling into poverty.”

Huge differences

The authors estimated that between 117 million and 168 million people became poor during the pandemic.

Although $2.9 trillion has been invested in social protection policies globally, developing countries have spent only $379 billion.

Meanwhile, high-income countries allocated an average of $847 per capita on social protection measures, including assistance and insurance, while low- and middle-income countries spent an average of only $124 per capita.

At the same time, total per capita social protection in low-income countries alone was less than $4.

Two-track recovery

“The report provides some insights into how the pandemic is affecting poor and vulnerable families in developing countries, but also provides some insights into how important policy choices are to mitigate the increase in poverty,” said UNDP Chief Economist George Gray Molina.

It is estimated that if applied to all poor and vulnerable families in the developing world, a temporary basic income – With the support of the United Nations Development Program – he could have prevented the emergence of new numbers of extreme poor globally.

The projections in the study indicated that this could have been achieved by allocating only 0.5 percent of the gross domestic product of developing countries, spread over six months, to income support measures.

“The bottom line, however, is that robust social assistance programs have been out of reach for low-income countries, paving the way for a two-track recovery from the pandemic,” the UNDP official said.

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