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Social protection and social exclusion: an analytical framework to assess the links

Working papers

Written by Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Babken Babajanian

Social protection refers to publicly-mandated policies and programmes to address risk and vulnerability among poor and near-poor households. Social exclusion is used in social policy and social devel­opment literature as a framework to conceptualise human deprivation and establish the mechanisms that produce and reproduce it.

This ODI Background Note suggests that social exclusion is a useful lens for researching and analysing the effects of social protection policies and programmes in low- and middle-income countries. It discusses current trends in social protection discourse, and some specific examples of how social protection could promote social inclusion by addressing some of the main outcomes and drivers of exclusion

It is suggested that the social exclusion framework can place a social protection intervention within a specific social and institutional context, generating understanding not only about its livelihood effects, but also about the factors and conditions that affect people’s lives and livelihoods, making it possible to go beyond a nar­row impact evaluation approach. The social exclusion lens also makes it pos­sible to unpack the complex relationship between income and non-income aspects of well-being, by focusing on the role of income in access to essential services and social participation, and by highlighting the role of social and institutional fac­tors that translate into economic vulnerability.

The framework suggested here establishes the conceptual and operational linkages between social protection and social exclusion, providing examples of how social protection can contribute to social inclusion, by pulling together different strands of literature and presenting an approach for structuring the analysis and evaluation of social protection, rather than prescribing ‘road map’ steps for implementation.

Babken Babajanian and Jessica Hagen-Zanker