7. Social Protection


Coordinators: Franziska Gassmann and Zina Nimeh

For a complete overview of all our research activities, publications and events, please visit the social protection website at: http://socialprotection.merit.unu.edu.

Poverty, vulnerability, inequality and exclusion are global social challenges, which require comprehensive human development interventions and initiatives to address them. In the past two decades, Social Protection gained momentum as a necessary component for achieving well-being and inclusive societies. Social Protection in this context goes beyond its traditional interpretation to include policies related to labour market participation, health, education and inclusion aimed at improving the lives of the poor and the realisation of equal opportunities.

Our research group examines the theoretical and empirical links between social protection, institutions and economic and human development in both developed and developing countries, including contexts of fragility and protracted crises. It contributes to academic debates in multiple disciplines on concepts and measurement of poverty, inequality and well-being in a given societal context. The analysis of formal and informal social protection strategies and policies aimed at the reduction of poverty and inequality features prominently in our research agenda. The focus is not only on better understanding of which mechanisms and instruments are effective given a specific economic and social environment, but includes the critical assessment of the potential long-term effects of public and private investments; both from a socio-economic, public finance and human rights perspective. This also includes research aimed at understanding the complex pathways through which (perceptions of) inequalities shape redistributive preferences and political participation.

Our engagement with governments, bilateral donor agencies and international organisations has enabled us to effectively contribute to evidence-based policy making in diverse country contexts. Our research contributes to the public debate at national and international level. We are engaged in a wide range of activities, generating high-quality and policy-relevant research. The Social Protection group is also the home for the oldest and largest specialisation track (Social Protection Policy) of the institute’s MPP.


1. Economics of Knowledge and Innovation
2. Structural Change and Economic Development
3. Economic Complexity and Innovation
4. Governance and institutions
5. Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Sustainability Transitions
6. Migration and Development
7. Social Protection
8. Population, Development and Labour Economics


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