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Context Assessment: Country Social Analysis

Toolkit/guidelines

The World Bank's Country Social Analysis (CSA) combines social, economic, political and institutional analysis to improve the understanding of the linkages between development dynamics and the political and social structures that shape development and policy outcomes. CSA can be used for understanding the context for reform as the basis for understanding the likely risks to the predicted impact of policy reform.

CSA uses existing qualitative and quantitative data, including the World Bank's Social Development Statistics (SD Stats), to select country-specific issues for analysis as determined by social and political trends and Bank assistance. CSA focuses on:

  1. the distribution of assets, entitlements activities and access to markets across different social groups;
  2. how local institutions and political systems affect policy making and implementation, or what institutions are preventing the poor from participation and accessing assets and services that would further their social and economic mobility;
  3. the opportunities and constraints to the country's development that emerge from the current country social context.

SD Stats contains 50 Social Development Indicators (SDIs) covering four themes: (i) country context; (ii) social inclusion; (iii) social cohesion; and (iv) social accountability. The country context identifies the main social and economic structures of a country that are likely to be reformed. Social inclusion identifies rules (formal and informal) that limit the poor and discourages their participation in reform implementation. Social cohesion identifies the extent to which countries are willing and able to address common needs and consider diverse interests. Social accountability identifies institutions that are responsive, transparent, and serve the public interest.

The timescale for carrying out Country Social Analysis is between two to six months and it is necessary to have in-depth country knowledge and access to literature on political-economic, political-science, sociological and other analysis, and key informant interviews.

This tool first appeared in the ODI Toolkit, Tools for Policy Impact