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social assistance to alleviate child poverty in Kosovo

September 30, 2010

 

Last year, my colleague Franziska Gassmann and I  performed an evaluation of the social assistance scheme in Kosovo and its impact on child poverty and vulnerability. We found that poverty, and child poverty in particular, is still widespread in the country and that the social assistance scheme has limited potential to alleviate the dire situation that many people live in. The social assistance scheme in Kosovo is one that operates under a very tight budget constraint with strict eligibility criteria and a demanding application process, causing many poor and vulnerable families to be excluded. As part of our study, we assessed alternative policy options in terms of their potential poverty impact and associated costs. An appealing option for many is the introduction of a universal, as opposed to a targeted, scheme that awards benefits to all children or families with children. However, from our cost-benefit analysis it became evident that such an option is too costly and not feasible. In addition, estimates suggested that a more expensive scheme is not necessarily the most effective ones in terms of poverty reduction. Specific adjustments to the targeted schemes, including expanding the age bracket in which children can receive benefits, appeared to have much better balance between impact and associated costs. Interestingly, the press release by UNICEF on the consequent report about child poverty in Kosovo (which is a synthesis of our work and work by the University of York) rather points out the benefits of a universal scheme instead of a targeted scheme.

The press release about the report as well as about UNICEF Ambassador Alyssa Milano and her visit to Kosovo for its launch can be found at the website of UNICEF Kosovo. You can also directly link to the report Child Poverty in Kosovo

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