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State of Economic Inclusion Report 2021


About the Report

The State of Economic Inclusion Report 2021

The State of Economic Inclusion Report 2021 sheds light on one of the most intractable challenges faced by development policy makers and practitioners: transforming the economic lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

The report provides a global assessment on the state of economic inclusion programs that reach the extreme poor and vulnerable. Drawing on experiences from over 75 countries, the report considers the feasibility of bringing economic inclusion and graduation programs to scale. This report establishes a baseline for global economic inclusion programs, reviews the evolving landscape of government and nongovernment programs, and explores the potential for scale.

This report is a product of a unique collaboration within the World Bank’s Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice and produced under the Partnership for Economic Inclusion – a multi-stakeholder partnership focused on scale-up of economic inclusion and graduation programs.


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Chapters  |  Spotlights  |   Case Studies


Chapter 1
Chapter 1:

Economic Inclusion: A Framework

Exploring high expectations for economic inclusion programs given strong evidence and increasing demand due to COVID-19 balanced by skepticism in part owing to a lack of common language, program typologies, or framework for action. 
Chapter 2
Chapter 2:

Moving to Scale: Political Realities and Entry Points

Scale-up of economic inclusion programs requires careful coordination across government at different levels and project design is influenced by both political economy considerations and by the type of program, or entry point, they are built upon, whether social safety net, livelihood and jobs, or financial inclusion programs. 
Chapter 3
Chapter 3:

A Surge in Economic Inclusion
Programming Worldwide

Economic inclusion programs are under way in 75 countries and data from 219 programs, collected by PEI between November 2019 and May 2020, is explored in detail, including the number and type of components, partnership features, and details on program participants.
Chapter 4
Chapter 4:

Moving to Scale through

Government-led programs have a strong interest in scaling up, a process of growth that can be achieved across five different dimensions: coverage, functional expansion, policy and strategy formulation, organizational reform, and operational planning.
Chapter 5
Chapter 5:

An Assessment of Program Impacts

An evidence review of 80 quantitative and qualitative evaluations of economic inclusion programs in 37 countries, which reveals a promising evidence base for economic inclusion programs and identifies some evidence gaps.
Chapter 6
Chapter 6:

Assessing the Cost of Economic
Inclusion Programs

One of the first multi-country cost disaggregation for government- and nongovernment-led economic inclusion programs globally. This costing analysis is a critical step toward understanding cost-optimization and cost effectiveness within economic inclusion programs.

View Annex for an overview of the survey methodology, a review of program impact, survey methodology and analysis of economic inclusion program costing, a mapping of economic inclusion programs globally, and a synopsis of components of economic inclusion programs. 





Economic Inclusion and COVID-19 Recovery Promoting Women’s Empowerment through Economic Inclusion Linking Economic Inclusion and Markets for the Poorest





Case Studies




Case Study 1: Productive Inclusion Measures and Adaptive Social Protection in the Sahel 

The Sahel Adaptive Social Protection Program, supported by the World Bank and development partners, implements a set of productive inclusion measures through the national safety net programs in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal. The case study presents preliminary insights on the challenges and opportunities of delivering productive inclusion programs at scale through government systems.





Case Study 2: The State of Bihar’s Approach to Economic Inclusion: JEEViKA and the SJY Program 

In India, the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project, locally known as JEEViKA, launched Satat Jeevikoparjan Yojana (SJY) to further extend its economic inclusion services to the poorest. This case study provides insights on JEEViKA’s livelihood-plus interventions, and their efforts to seek new pathways for scale by leveraging financial inclusion infrastructure and community institutions such as savings-and-credit groups and village organizations. 



Case Study 3: Adapting BRAC’s Graduation Program to the Changing Poverty Context in Bangladesh 

The BRAC case study reviews the experience of this large nongovernmental organization as it evolved the graduation approach over the last 20 years, in particular focusing on lessons for governments and NGOs from recent implementation. This longest-running, largest-scale NGO graduation program delivers lessons on data-driven innovation, insights on how governments can adapt the approach to changing poverty contexts, and efforts to ensure high-quality programming at scale in a changing poverty context.



Case Study 4: Haku Wiñay: An Economic Inclusion Program in Peru 

In Peru, the Haku Wiñay program, implemented by the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion of Peru, through the Social Development Cooperation Fund, is an economic inclusion program introduced to create economic gains among the most disadvantaged rural households. The case study highlights the need for adaptation, varied micro-strategies for varied contexts, and innovative market linkage efforts.



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Ten key findings


Trend 1

An unprecedented surge in economic inclusion programming is occurring worldwide. Economic inclusion programs are underway in 75 countries, reaching approximately 20 million households and benefiting nearly 92 million individuals, either directly or indirectly; this report presents data and evidence from 219. 

Trend 2

There is strong potential for economic inclusion programs to be built on pre-existing government programs, and this may prove critical in the long-term recovery efforts arising from the COVID-19 fallout. Economic inclusion is becoming a critical instrument in many governments’ large-scale anti-poverty programming. One of the primary means by which governments scale up economic inclusion is through social safety nets, suggesting an opportunity to build on cash transfers. 

Trend 3

The coverage of economic inclusion interventions is modest,  but a sustainable approach to scale involves more than expanding program beneficiary numbers to increase the quality of impact and sustainability of coverage, as well as processes of change and adaptation. 

Trend 4

Economic inclusion programs provide flexibility for adaptations. Despite considerable heterogeneity there is common prioritization on rural development, fragility, and the needs of specific vulnerable groups. The PEI Landscaping Survey 2020, reports a strong focus on protecting most vulnerable groups, including children, people with disabilities and displaced populations. 

Trend 5

Women’s economic empowerment is a key driver of economic inclusion programming, with nearly 90 percent of programs surveyed having a gender focus. Program design adaptations to promote empowerment and mitigate unintended household and community risks have emerged.

Trend 6

Economic inclusion programs are adapting to the realities of informality, especially for youth in urban areas. Programmatic approaches vary with some self-employment interventions having broad inclusion objectives and others explicitly seeking out high potential entrepreneurs. 

Trend 7

The digital space will be critical to leapfrog capacity constraints and to strengthen program management. Many programs are currently utilizing government social registries, beneficiary registries, and other government databases to identify program participants. 

Trend 8

Economic inclusion programs build on a promising evidence base that is set to grow significantly in coming years. A review of 80 quantitative and qualitative evaluations in 37 countries shows that a bundled set of interventions shows larger impact on income, assets, and savings relative to stand-alone interventions. 

Trend 9

An improved understanding of basic cost structures is a vital starting point to understanding the cost-effectiveness of economic inclusion programs and to overcome the limitations of assessing programs by a pure “sticker price”. 

Trend 10

Strong partnership is integral to the success of economic inclusion programs. The engagement of community mechanisms is a critical driver of program delivery with most programs leveraging community structures, including informal savings/credit community groups, local governance groups and formalized producer organizations.