ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From Policy to Practice

How Should Social Pensions Be Scaled Up?

A survey in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh—sstates that have extended social pension coverage beyond "below poverty line" families and increased pension amounts—sprovides a window into the challenges of scaling up such programmes. The survey reveals that increased coverage and higher pension amounts do not render the social pension regressive in its distribution; levels of leakage remain low and tractable. Yet, in practice, the schemes are unable to reach all of their target populations. A major challenge in expanding the pension net lies in ensuring entry for the poor. If pension programmes are to be scaled up, entry needs to be facilitated through stricter monitoring of inclusion errors, proactive identification, enrolment camps or other means.

We would like to thank the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, the three state governments, our survey respondents and participants in focus group discussions for providing insights into the process and challenges faced in delivery of social pensions. We are also grateful to Ana Bellver, Stephen Howes, Roland Lomme, Lance Pritchett, Mihir Shah, and Vinaya Swaroop for comments on earlier drafts of the paper. Raghav Puri assisted in questionnaire design and piloting, and field supervision. Data was collected by the Social and Rural Research Institute of IMRB, with technology support from Sunai Consultancy. Data collection was co-funded by UK aid from the UK Government. However, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK Government’s official policies. All views expressed in this paper, and any errors, are our own.

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