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Sustainable escapes from poverty through productive inclusion

Research report

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The debate on poverty eradication strategies, which has led to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, widely acknowledges the importance of social protection as a policy tool to reduce poverty and inequality. Not only are social protection measures crucial to protect the poorest and most vulnerable, and prevent deprivation, but they can also play an important role in promoting sustainable livelihoods and be socially transformative by addressing social inequalities. Social protection is an essential tool to address poverty dynamics. It tackles chronic poverty by bringing people up to the poverty line, sustaining their trajectories above and away from the poverty line over time and preventing their impoverishment.

This policy guide opens up new ground in reviewing the contribution of social protection programmes in facilitating sustained escapes from poverty through the productive inclusion of poor individuals in low- and middle-income countries. The overarching question to which it seeks to respond is: what are the key features of existing programmes that allow poor people to sustainably escape from poverty in a cost-effective and scalable way?

To answer this question, this policy guide looks at evidence from social protection programmes with innovative designs that combine different interventions, either following a graduation approach or by building integrated social protection systems. This comparative approach is new and offers insights for policy-makers seeking to design integrated social protection systems that fulfil protective and preventive functions as well as maximise their promotive and transformative potential in order to lift people out of poverty in a sustained way.

Chiara Mariotti, Martina Ulrichs and Luke Harman