Institutional factors and people's preferences in the implementation of social protection: the case of Ethiopia

Vincenzo Vinci & Keetie Roelen


Effective implementation of social protection interventions is key for achieving positive impact, but factors underpinning quality of implementation have not been widely explored. Recent literature on determinants of social protection expenditures indicates that quality of institutions and people's preferences play an important role. This paper builds on this literature to explore the linkages between quality of institutions and people's preferences in relation to the quality of implementation of social protection interventions. It does so by using Ethiopia and one of the largest social protection programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa - the Productive Safety Net Programme - as a case study, thereby contributing to debates of how social protection can be implemented more effectively, particularly in settings with widespread poverty, relatively low levels of institutional capacity and rapid scale-up of programmes. Based on primary qualitative data, the paper finds that greater institutional quality is associated with more effective implementation of social protection interventions. The ability to voice preferences can lead to adaptations in implementation, although the extent to which this occurs is highly gendered.

JEL Classification: H11, H53, I38

Keywords: Social protection, Institutions, Public policies, Ethiopia