The analysis of social assistance policies and programs in iran based on capability approach

Mahmoudi, Vahid; Shaabani, Esmaeil (2018). 'The analysis of Social Assistance Policies and Programs in Iran Based on Capability Approach' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.


Based on multi-dimensional poverty indicators, social assistance policies and executive arrangements of poverty alleviation in Iran have had very little impact on reducing vulnerability, exiting from poverty cycle and eliminating intergenerational poverty. Significant reasons can be categorized into internal and external factors. The first is rooted in social justice; ‘growth-mediated security’ strategy has been the main reason for the lack of formation of social assistance policies and its deficient impact on poverty and inequality indicators. In the second, internal arrangements for poverty alleviation programs, with income-based perspective, have caused people's dependence and low exit rates from programs. In line with the capability approach, on the one hand, ‘support-led security’ strategy creates a balance between growth and social justice, and on the other hand, executive arrangements with considering empowerment and creation of capabilities for the poor can lead to their exit from the cycle of poverty and social inclusion. In a Ph.D thesis on the topic of "Redesigning the social assistance system in Iran based on the capability approach", the analysis of social assistance policies, development of programs and their implementation have been addressed. Narayan's Analytical Framework was used to evaluate and develop social assistance policies. The results of policy analysis indicate that social assistance policies should lead to opportunities for the poor through economic and social structure (including their access, inclusion and freedom to participate in economic and social activities) and institutional climate (including participation in local organizations, access to information and social accountability). The gap analysis displays that Iran’s five-year national development plan has caused more poverty, although it has made economic and social progress. Poverty is a product of process, and therefore, poverty cannot be reduced simply by emphasizing one-dimension assistance (income or consumption). In other words, the relationship between growth and poverty is not linear; there are several factors that affect it including the way of distributing income, inclusion of the poor and continuous empowerment plans. Hence, growth along with inequality of opportunity in Iran has counteracted efforts to reduce poverty. Plans of Rural Entrepreneurship and urban tourism create opportunities for the poor participation and prevent social exclusion. Social assistance programs and their implementation also lead to the poor's agency in creating individual assets and capabilities (such as health, education, productive capacity, life skills) and collective capabilities (including having poverty voices, NGO formations and Representatives). The gap analysis in this section also reveals that social assistance programs focused on redistribution of unconditional cash transfers to the poor caused System dependency and lack of empowerment. Therefore, social exclusion has occurred, especially in the informal settlements. Six type of conditional programs based on human development were identified that emphasize creating functions such as health, education, employment and life skills, consider the process of converting commodities into commodity characteristics and capabilities based on individual and environmental characteristics. The agency has made it possible to choose the desired functions among the capabilities by empowering the poor.

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