Social Protection Index Brief: Social Assistance Programs in Asia and the Pacific

Date: October 2013
Type: Papers and Briefs
Subject:
Series: ADB Briefs
ISBN: 978-92-9254-294-8 (print), 978-92-9254-295-5 (web)
ISSN: 2071-7202 (print), 2218-2675 (web)
Author: McKinley, Terry; Handayani, Sri Wening

Description

This policy brief examines the six major subcomponents of social assistance and draws out policy lessons based on comprehensive data for 35 countries in the region.

Key points

  • Social assistance accounts for only 36% of total expenditures on social protection in Asia and the Pacific but benefits 58% of total target beneficiaries.
  • Social transfers and child welfare comprise two-thirds of social assistance spending.
  • Although cash transfers are gaining popularity in Asia and the Pacific, they should not be considered the centerpiece of national social protection systems.
  • While social assistance programs will remain relevant for the poorest and disadvantaged groups, they cannot address all problems associated with poverty and vulnerability.
  • Disaster relief is another form of social assistance that has increased in importance due to rising vulnerabilities brought about by natural shocks, including those associated with climate change.