Understanding Social Protection: from Justification to Intervention SPP4206


Period 4B
Start Date Mar 2024
End Date Apr 2024
ECTS credits 4
Instruction language English
Coordinator Z. Nimeh
Teaching methods Assignment; Lectures; Project Based Learning; Presentations; Papers
Assessment methods Attendance; Participation; Final paper; Presentation and paper
Keywords Social Protection Policy; Welfare State; Safety Nets; Political Economy; Policy Microsimulation 


Full course description

This course offers a comprehensive introduction to social protection policy and design. It provides an overview of the development of the main issues, theories, and practices regarding the design and the implementation of social protection policies and social safety nets in advanced economies, and contrasts them to emerging and developing economies. The course aims to equip students with the knowledge that is needed to identify the range of policy options to address the global social challenges for developed and developing economies.

During the course, a variety of social protection frameworks and contexts will be explored.  The course will build on a discussion of the welfare state, while providing an in-depth overview of the range of state interventions (including  types of benefits and interventions such as social assistance, universal benefit schemes, social insurance schemes, mandated private insurance, the new generation of conditional, and unconditional cash transfers). It will discuss the economic effects of welfare interventions, the political economy of government interventions, potential effects of benefits on poverty, and income distributions (static micro analytical practice) and stakeholder interest analysis. A range of examples will be offered on different levels of state interventions.

Course objectives

  • Explain and examine the principles and frameworks of social protection and the different instruments and their design;
  • Contrast the contexts between developing countries (Risk Coping: Non-Contributory…) and developed countries (Risk Mitigation: Pensions and social insurance…)
  • Justify the selection of different interventions and instruments based on actual contexts 
  • Understand the purpose of ex-post and ex-ante analysis, the difference between them, and how they can be applied to assess the state of social protection in a given context. 
  • Appraise, negotiate, advocate, and recommend policy options relating to social protection systems in a given context while linking with a Poverty and Inequality Profile of that context.



SP4205 highly recommended
Attending the offered skills premier in microsimulation prior to the beginning of the specialisation is recommended.

Recommended reading

M. E., Del Ninno, C., Tesliuc, E. D., & Ouerghi, A. (2008). For protection and promotion: The design and implementation of effective safety nets. World Bank.
Course reader