From a development perspective, the goal of social policy is to promote universal social protection and equity. United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) defines social policy as public policies and institutions that aim to protect citizens from social contingencies and poverty, and ultimately to enable them to strive for their own life goals. During the past three decades, such a view has been marginalized by policy approaches that emphasize safety nets and the targeting of vulnerable groups. Because of the diversity of themes that emerge at the nexus between development and social policy, this programme comprises the largest research component at UNRISD, proposing a core research agenda of its own while incorporating contributions from other areas whenever relevant.
The current programme builds on past research in this field that looks at ways social policy can be instrumental to economic development while maintaining its intrinsic goals of social protection and equity. Specifically, it embarks on five areas of study: institutions for social policy and poverty eradication, financing social policy, global social policy, migration and social welfare, and assessment of HIV/AIDS policy and practices.
Research under the Institute's "flagship" project, Social Policy in a Development Context, was carried out from 2000 to 2005 in East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, the Nordic countries, and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as on thematic issues related to pro-poor macroeconomics, gender dimensions, democratization, commercialization of health care, and water privatization.
Poverty Reduction and Policy Regimes
UNRISD initiated a project in 2006 to study the causes, dimensions and dynamics of poverty
. It adopted a policy regime approach to examine the complex ways in which poverty outcomes are shaped by the configuration of institutions and policies in a triad of economic development, social policy and politics. It aimed to shed light on the institutions, policies and politics that have made some countries more successful than others in reducing poverty. The project consisted of two sets of activities. The first dealt with research on eight in-depth case studies and nine overview papers. The second was the UNRISD Flagship Report on Poverty
, published in 2010.
SPD Programme Highlights
- Poverty Reduction and Policy Regimes - overview papers on Developmental Strategies, Welfare Regime and Poverty Reduction, looking at China, Ireland, the Former Soviet Union, the Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka, among others.
- Workshop on Social Policy in Mineral-Rich Countries, 24-25 April 2008
- Workshop on Social Policy and Migration, held 22-23 November 2007 in Stockholm
- Book edited by Yusuf Bangura on Democracy and Social Policy
- Journal article by Katja Hujo and Nicola Piper on “Migration and Social Policy in Developing Countries” for a special issue of Development
- First workshop for Financing Social Policy, held 1-2 March 2007 in Geneva
- Conference News 18, Financing Social Policy