The poor in developing countries are particularly vulnerable to adverse shocks. They have little or no access to public social insurance, are unlikely to save in adequate amounts to rely fully on self-insurance or informal insurance, face restricted access to private market insurance or credit mechanisms, and have little or no political voice to demand the protection of safety net programs. In this book, the authors analyze the best ways to help the poor manage risks such as health shocks, unemployment, sudden drops in income, and old age. Unemployment benefits, employment programs, means-tested social assistance, social investment funds, and micro-finance for consumption-smoothing purposes are the leading options considered. The book provides a careful assessment of issues that governments need to address in the process of designing appropriate safety nets.
Laurence Chandy, Hiroshi Kato, Homi Kharas
July 20, 2015
Nora Lustig is a senior fellow in Brookings' Foreign Policy Studies program and the editor of Coping with Austerity: Poverty and Inequality in Latin America (Brookings, 1995).