A Compendium of Social Protection Researches

This Compendium of Social Protection Research in Bangladesh consists of the following studies:

Barriers of Accessing Social Protection Programmes for the Poor and Marginalised

Bangladesh has made spectacular strides forward in its economic development, registering impressive achievements of sustained economic growth and poverty reduction. Nevertheless, a significant proportion of the population (24.3%) still lives in poverty and almost 70 million people (about 43% of the population) are considered poor and vulnerable. Over the past decades, the government of Bangladesh has implemented various types of safety net programmes to address risks faced by poor and marginalised groups. Currently, Bangladesh spends about 2 percent of the GDP on social security, comprising over 100 programmes. However, due to inadequate funding implementation-related difficulties and malpractices that result in a high degree of targeting errors, improving efficiency and effectiveness of these programmes poses a major challenge. One important consequence of this is the exclusion of many poor and vulnerable people from the coverage of Social Security Programmes (SSPs).

The adoption of the National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) in recent times has been a major policy advancement that aims to overcome programmatic and implementation loopholes by undertaking wide-ranging reforms and by streamlining the operational procedures involving the social security system. These reform initiatives are timely and should enhance access for the targeted population groups. However, given the nature of the reforms involving several implementing ministries, the full and effective implementation of the NSSS will take several years.  In the meantime, building the knowledgebase of the existing access barriers is most appropriate to keep such a crucial issue as part of the relevant policy discourse, which can prompt measures in alleviating the problem at least in the short to medium term. The ground realities associated with accessing SSPs should also inform the NSSS implementation process, helping it, if needed, improvise, modify and innovate certain features within the on-going initiatives to tackle the barriers in a more effective manner.

In this context, the current study sheds light on the targeting efficiency of SSPs and provides fresh insights into the factors leading to high exclusion problems faced by the citizens belonging to the poorest and vulnerable groups. While the NSSS reform agenda take largely a supply-side and top-down approach, this study makes an in-depth assessment of the demand side issues based on empirical and qualitative field-work-based research to offer complementary perspectives.

Cost-Benefit Ratio Study on Effects of Social Protection Cash Transfer

Cost-effectiveness of few selected cash and food assisted programmes have been analysed in this study. Various types of methods utilizing diverse data sets have been used in this study. A through desk review of administrative costs – their share in total programme cost or investment; merits and demerits of various cash and food schemes; costs associated with various types of targeting methods have been reviewed using literatures and data sets. An analytical framework invoking the costs and benefits of selected cash and food schemes has been used to assess their cost effectiveness or benefit-cost ratio. Administrative costs of the selected cash and food schemes are based on data gathered from ministries. Two approaches have been adopted to assess benefits. In the first approach (please refer to Khondker, B and Freeland, N (2014) and Philip et al (2015), poverty impacts of the schemes (with and without the schemes) have been determined using the unit record data of HIES 2016. In the second approach, the Social Accounting Matrix (SAM) of Bangladesh for 2012 has been used to derive the economywide impacts of these transfers. Finally, a micro-simulation model based on the HIES 2016 has been used to compare poverty impacts of expansion of the schemes/programmes versus enhancing the transfer amounts. 

Implication of Changing Demographics and Effects on Social Protection in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is currently at the third stage of her demographic transition. Bangladesh has been experiencing a rapid change in her population structure due to successes of social policy interventions which have driven down child mortality and high fertility rates and extended life expectancy. Changing population structures likely to have implications on the economy and society mainly via three channels – (i) labour supply and labour market; (ii) internal migration and urbanization; and (iii) demand for goods and services – especially for public services including social protection system. The demographic dynamic suggests that the older population (those aged 60 and over) outnumber children (0-5) in less than a decade. The above circumstances indicate the need for social protection systems that adapt to demographic changes. In this context this study attempts to explore the implications of changing demographic dynamics and effects on social protection in Bangladesh. Following five age-specific groups – children (age 0-4); school age (age 5-14); youth (age 15-29); working age (age 30-59); and old age (age 60 and above) have been considered in this study.

The study has used various methods and diverse data sets. Frist, a through desk review of the changing population structure and their socio-economic implications has been conducted using demographic dynamic and other relevant social and economic data sets. Second, an analytical framework invoking the demand side and supply side of the age-based social protection system has been used to assess adequacy and gap. Demand side assessment is based on the demographic dynamics and HIES 2010 and 2016 data sets. Social protection budget data produced by Ministry of Finance have been employed to derive the supply side. Third, a costing module based on the demographic dynamic (i.e. between 2020 and 2050) and key macro-economic indicators is employed to project costs of the age-based social protection schemes.  

Long-term Effect of Livelihood Promotion Types of Social Security Programmes

Preface: Bangladesh is in the pathway of attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In order to achieve the goals, it is imperative to ensure inclusive development and end poverty and therefore, a concrete livelihood programme or public works model is essential. Public works programmes have been observed as “win-win” by generating employment, creating assets, and more specifically providing welfare transfer. These programmes further help in building new skills as an effective bridge to generate employment for the poor. More specifically, the programme broadly provides support in two ways: (i) governance of social protection and (ii) strengthening of the system, in order to ensure that economic growth is achieved in a more inclusive manner. This will allow economic opportunities to reach rural and urban poor and to protect vulnerable groups against shocks and prevent them from further slipping into poverty. Currently almost all developing countries operate a variety of livelihood programmes with the aim of eradicating poverty. These programmes are found to have significant positive impact on income level as well as their ability to cope with shocks. On the flip side, the basis of the use of cash transfer is highly debatable in the sense that people under cash transfer programme are often found to be ‘stuck’ in poverty. Henceforth, ideally graduation programmes combined with different social assistance approaches are proven to eradicate poverty and they outweigh other social security programmes. However, these programmes have to be sustainable and the duration of the programmes need to be long-term. Short-term public work projects fail to address the underlying structural factors that cause poverty in the first place.  In this context, this study attempts to identify how the Government of Bangladesh’s livelihood social security programmes are affecting the long-term welfare of the citizenry, and whether they provide a better value for money over direct cash transfers or not. Moreover, this study particularly aims at finding out whether livelihood graduation programmes have any long-term impact on beneficiaries or not. In doing so, the study predominantly – (i) deploys a survey technique on SWAPNO beneficiaries to compare it with baseline and endline, and (ii) compares between cash transfer and graduation programme using HIES 2016 data.

Workfare Programmes and Skill Development in Bangladesh: Evidence and Policy Implications

Social Security Programmes (SSPs) include government schemes targeting poor and vulnerable population groups for employment generation, food and cash transfer, education and skill development, health and nutritional support, vulnerability and risk reduction, etc. A substantial amount of public expenditure, estimated at 14.2 per cent of the budget and 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018-19, is directed towards SSPs. The existing literature and international experiences suggest that effective workfare schemes (WFS) under SSPs have been successful in generating employment. However, the impact of these programmes on the job market, e.g. matching the demand for workers trained by WFS by the labour market or private sector, has not been examined yet. 

This study aims to assess whether SSP workfare programmes contribute to increasing the skills of beneficiaries; examine whether and to what extent the private sector is experiencing a shortage of semi-skilled labour; and suggest policy avenues to improve WFS supportive of skills development to thus help address the shortage of skilled labour force.

Harmonisation of Small Social Security Programmes: Issues and Policy Options

One of the major programmatic reforms stipulated in the National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) of Bangladesh is the consolidation of ‘small’ programmes. As an effective means for reducing administrative costs, the strategy prescribed for the harmonization of small SSPs in conformity with the lifecycle risk-based major programmes. Despite the direction provided, there has only been a limited progress in the consolidation of small programmes. The underlying reasons for this, can be attributed to the lack of definitional clarity in the NSSS, in defining small programmes, and insufficient coordination among line ministries, as well as the lack of a clear guidance in navigating the concerned ministries for such a consolidation. The aim of this report is to help identify the small SSPs and propose a framework for harmonization of these programmes.

Diagnostics for Urban Poverty and the Social Security Needs of the Urban Poor in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has been experiencing a rapid growth in terms of urban zones as well as urban population. Urban population in Bangladesh has grown at an annual average rate of nearly six percent since independence, at a time when national population growth was about 2.2%. However, the growth of the urban population is lopsided across different divisional cities and more than 60% of Bangladesh’s urban population is concentrated mainly in four metropolitan cities- Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, and Rajshahi. The UN estimation shows that more than half of the population of this country will be living across the cities by 2030. Nonetheless, the urbanization in Bangladesh has remained unplanned and most of the urban slums and low-income settlements are confronted with major problems of poverty and lack of basic services.

Situation Analysis: A Perception Study on Persons with Disabilities in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in terms of socioeconomic development in the field of health, education, lower vulnerability and economic boom. Its graduation from the LDC status will undoubtedly be a breakthrough in the nation's history but pressing economic and development challenges would remain. The country needs to move forward, and it must have an inclusive development in mind to achieve zero poverty. This is where we consider the issue of Persons with Disabilities  to be important. Based on WHOs global estimates  of 15% ,Bangladesh with a population of about 160 million people could conceivably have around 16 million people with disabilities  that is  about 10% percent of the population  If the stakeholder provides the right platform and give the right opportunities, they can contribute to society like any other person. The most important targets for this disadvantaged group is SDG 8 which is to ensure Decent Work and Economic Growth for all and SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

As in most developing countries, internationally comparable estimates of disability prevalence are rare in Bangladesh. This lack of globally comparable statistics is partly explained by variations in definition of disability, methodologies of data collection, and quality of study design. Misconceptions about Disability are common in the country and they often face challenges in accessing the basic rights starting from education, jobs, marriage to health.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) states that people with disabilities have an equal right to social protection. Safety nets are forms of social protection intervention that target vulnerability and poverty. Many countries provide safety nets to poor people with disabilities and their households, either through specific disability-targeted programmes or more commonly through general social assistance programmes. Bangladesh has also taken necessary steps to include Person with Disabilities in their Social protection agenda.

The adoption of the National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) in recent times has been a major policy advancement that Bangladesh government has been committed to. It has incorporated and added disability themes in various policies that is appropriate to a middle-income country.

In this context, the study sheds light on the barriers faced by Person with Disabilities (PWD) and provides fresh insights into the factors leading to exclusion problems faced by these citizens belonging to all income groups and suggests appropriate recommendations learning from best International practices.

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