The future of social assistance in Africa and beyond


Published 21.06.17

A discussion hosted by the Centre for the Study of African Economies, two visionary thinkers in a discussion on the future of social assistance through cash transfers.

The prospect of a substantial expansion of social assistance programmes based on cash transfers is generating great enthusiasm across Africa and beyond. Much of the recent research in this area has used randomized control trials to document the short-term impacts of these interventions, or focused on the relative efficacy of different modes of delivery (for example, if transfers are conditional or unconditional, large once-off wealth transfers or small payments over the long term, given to men or women, or means-targeted). However, a broader discussion on the opportunities, challenges and priorities related to the development of social assistance through cash transfer is often missing.

James Ferguson is the Susan S. and William H. Hindle Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. Professor Ferguson’s latest work analyses the political possibilities created by the recent expansion of the welfare state in Southern Africa.

Paul Niehaus is Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at UC San Diego and co-founder of GiveDirectly and Segovia. GiveDirectly is a nonprofit organization that has pioneered the use of new technologies to transfer money directly to people living in extreme poverty.

A discussion hosted by the Centre for the Study of African Economies.

Chair: Professor Chris Woodruff, Oxford Department of International Development.

Blavatnik School of Government,
University of Oxford
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