Position Paper
Aid and the Social Sectors

This position paper on Aid and the Social Sectors was prepared by UNU-WIDER under the ReCom programme of Research (Re) and Communication (Com) on foreign aid. It aims to provide a coherent up-todate overview and analysis of an extraordinarily important issue in the development field: The contribution of foreign aid to human development.Social sector policy and the services that they provide are recognised for their intrinsic values and instrumental qualities for the functioning of individuals in particular, and the development strategies of countries more general. There is overwhelming evidence that links good quality social services to labour productivity, economic growth, poverty reduction, and ultimately, human development.The position paper examines a large number of cutting-edge policy innovations, and based on scientific evidence, addresses four central and interrelated questions: ‘What works’ in social sector policy? ‘What could work’ if policy designs are fine-tuned? ‘What is scalable’, i.e. what are the basic conditions needed to bring promising but small pilot projects to national level? ‘What is transferable’, i.e. what policy innovations in one socio-economic and political context have been successfully replicated in other contexts? These four questions are, and will remain, at the heart of present and future international co-operation efforts.The position paper adopts a typology that emerges as a response to significant advances in knowledge about the causes and nature of poverty. It recognises the importance of taking a holistic and multi-dimensional approach to poverty, and therefore looks at policy actions and strategies that enhanced human development through the provision of healthcare, education, safe water and sanitation infrastructure, as well as social protection.The position paper relates to the ReCom results meetings on ‘Aid and the Social Sectors’ held in Stockholm, Sweden, on 13 March 2013. The initial draft of the position paper was prepared before the ReCom results meeting and has been subsequently updated and revised based on critique, comments, as well as research inputs received from a wide range of stakeholders. The paper has benefitted substantially from this process and from the deliberations at other ReCom results meetings.Background research and materials on which the UNU-WIDER team has drawn includes: (i) existing research published in a variety of forms reviewed under the ReCom programme; (ii) background papers prepared for ReCom by members of UNU-WIDER’s global network, including a range of leading specialists in the area of aid and social sector policy across the developing and developed world; as well as (iii) research by UNU-WIDER staff. Further information on background papers, research studies, and other outputs from ReCom is available online at http://recom.wider.unu.edu/results and in the list of Commissioned papers in the Appendix 3, which are referred to throughout this position paper. The theme leader for the position paper on Aid and the Social Sectors is Miguel Niño-Zarazúa, who received assistance from Lena Lindbjerg Sperling. Other UNU-WIDER contributors include Tony Addison and Roger Williamson. They have worked alongside the UNU-WIDER communication and position paper production support team consisting of: Kennedy Ambang, Dominik Etienne, Heidi Kaila, Anu Laakso, Carl-Gustav Lindén, Susan Servas, James Stewart, Paul Silfvenius, Minna Tokkari, Janis Vehmaan-Kreula, Anna-Mari Vesterinen, Annett Victorero, Tuuli Ylinen and Lumi Young. We at UNU-WIDER are grateful for all of the many analytical and other efforts that have enriched the social sector theme under ReCom; and acknowledge with appreciation significant research contributions from the following scholars: Abby Riddell, Alex Hurrell, Ali Abdilahi, Alisa Dicaprio, Ana B. Amaya, Andrew Shepherd, Armando Barrientos, Arnab Acharya, Aulo Gelli, Augustin K. Fosu, Bianca Suyama, Blessing Chiripanhura, Bob Baulch, Bommi Lee, Dean Jamison, Elizabeth Kristjansson, Felicia Knaul, Fernando Martel Garcia, Fiseha Haile Gebregziabher, François Bourguignon, Francisco Espejo, Iara Costa Leite, James Potter, Jamie Bartram, Jean-Philippe Platteau, Jing Shen, Juan M. Villa, Kassandra Birchler, Kate Baldwin, Katharina Michaelowa, Le Vi An Tam, Leonard Wantchekon, Macartan Humphreys, Maria Quattri, Mahilde Maitrot, Maureen Seguin, Melisa Martínez Álvarez, Melissa Pomeroy, Michael Bratton, Milan Thomas, Nathan Blanchet, P.B. Anand, Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Rajeev Dehejia, Richard A. Cash, Rifat Atun, Rikhil R. Bhavnani, Robert Bain, Robert Hecht, Rolf Luyendijk, Sam Jones, Samia Aleem, Serena Masino, Sylvia Bishop, Stefan Leiderer, Stephen Devereux, Stephen P. Heyneman, and Zulfiqar A. Bhutta.We are also grateful for helpful comments on earlier versions of the position paper from Danida and Sida.Finally, we at UNU-WIDER would like to express our warmest appreciation to Danida and Sida for financial support and collaboration over the past three years. Particular thanks for their efforts go to Tove Degnbol, Henning Nøhr, Anders Granlund, Lena Johansson de Château and Pernilla Sjöquist Rafiqui. It is our hope that this innovative effort in combining research and development practice has provided material that will be of help to our three main audiences, including aid agency staff alongside researchers and national policy makers, in their combined efforts to further the effectiveness of foreign aid in the years to come.