Promoting Social Inclusion of the Extreme Poor at Scale: Evidence from Developing Countries

Date Published: 
Mar 2015
Abramovsky, L., Barron, K., Stoye, G.

Alleviating extreme poverty through social inclusion programs

This paper presents evaluations of social inclusion programs by policymakers in various countries to alleviate extreme poverty. The programs aim to improve the living standards of the extreme poor along many dimensions, including housing, health, and employment. They aim to address a range of different causes of poverty simultaneously by providing preferential access to existing social services and improving the quality of these services. These programs also assign social workers to help families identify specific economic and social barriers to exiting extreme poverty, and provide guidance on how to overcome these constraints. The paper particularly evaluates two programs: Unidos in Colombia and Chile Solidario (CS) in Chile. Key findings include:
  • CS program did not lead to widespread improvements in housing or employment outcomes in Chile;
  • Programs like Unidos, in its current form or even if scaled up, are unlikely to make a significant contribution to the reduction of extreme poverty;
  • Unlike Unidos and CS, small scale programs that are better targeted are more successful at reducing poverty and promoting social inclusion;
  • Coordinated efforts among different national agencies administering a number of high-quality programs is likely to be the right approach to tackling extreme poverty.
Chile, Colombia