Official visit to the USA

The Policy Lab makes Spain the 94th country to join an ambitious World Bank project to fight poverty

News - 2024.4.19


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The Minister for Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, Elma Saiz, has met with various representatives of the World Bank and with the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) during her official visit to the United States, to present them with the report of the results and recommendations of the 34 pilot itineraries of the Inclusion Policy Lab linked to the Minimum Basic Income (IMV) funded with 212 million from the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.

Following the positive response from the European Commission on Monday - Commissioner Nicolas Schmit informed the minister of his intention to study new funding channels to continue the Policy Lab - the international financial institutions in Washington DC and the UN have also confirmed their interest in this pioneering initiative at the international level.

Among other policies that have been held up as examples by the World Bank, such as circular migration programmes, the experiences of this laboratory have encouraged the Washington-based institution to ask Spain to join the Human Capital Project, a global effort to better target policies aimed at reducing poverty and inequality. "The results you bring today are what our ears needed to hear, an example of collaboration and accompaniment of the most vulnerable people, not just giving them aid," said Mamta Murthi, the World Bank's Vice President for Human Development, who was at the signing ceremony with Minister Saiz in the US.

Until now, no public administration had launched 34 projects at the same time using the randomised trial methodology, which consists of implementing a measure on a group of people, in this case, recipients of the IMV, minimum income or social exclusion, selected at random, and comparing the results with a control group that does not receive the measure. This technique has allowed us to find out the causal effect of each measure and each itinerary on the well-being of the most vulnerable population.

This methodology is often used by the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank in the evaluation of their programmes.

More than 30 projects developed in all the Autonomous Communities.

The World Bank's Vice President for Human Development, Mamta Murthi, congratulated the Minister for this pioneering initiative, which has been recognised by the scientific community.

During the meeting, they explored new avenues of collaboration around the Laboratory to scale up the best practices of the more than 30 projects, in which 76,000 people have participated throughout Spain (180,000 including their families, who have benefited in most cases from the comprehensive actions) and to scale them up in other international programmes to combat poverty and promote inclusive economic growth.

"Ensuring a minimum income guarantee is necessary, but not sufficient. For this reason, we have taken advantage of the European funds to set up the Inclusion Policies Laboratory with the collaboration of communities, municipalities and social organisations. It is an experience with which we have identified best practices and results that guarantee the most effective social policies", the minister stressed.

The vice-president of the World Bank has encouraged the Spanish delegation to "continue advancing in the leadership for inclusion through these programmes of labour insertion, educational reinforcement, prevention of school failure, digital training or aid for work-life balance". Saiz has detailed the scientific support of two prestigious institutions: the Centre for Monetary and Financial Studies (CEMFI) and the J-PAL global poverty research centre, led by Esther Duflo and Abhijt Banerjee, winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2019.

In addition, she gave him the 'Decalogue of lessons learned' in English to serve as a guide for other organisations. They commit to placing people at the centre of any measure and intervening from different spheres, in collaboration with the closest entities. Acting comprehensively on each person and their family can increase household income by 200 euros per month and raise children's academic grades in language and mathematics by one point.

The IDB, a pioneer in scientific policy analysis

During the bilateral meeting with the president of the Inter-American Development Bank, Ilan Goldfajn, the minister stressed the importance of testing the effectiveness of social policies before they are implemented on a large scale. "Crises project their most damaging effects on the vulnerable population, with more uncertain employment careers and generally more volatile incomes and jobs. The economic transformations associated with digitalisation and climate change will affect all citizens, but especially the most vulnerable social groups", said the minister.

This is why it is necessary, she added, "to develop a welfare state capable of responding to the multiple challenges and to commit to evaluation as a guarantee that public resources are allocated to the most effective social programmes".

The IDB has long experience in evaluating projects with the same methodology used in the Lab: randomised trials, which apply to projects on online tutoring for schoolchildren, parenting for vulnerable communities or measuring the impact of digital connectivity in single-parent households.

Meeting with António Guterres in NY

The visit to the USA concludes today with a meeting in New York with António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, to whom the minister will hand over the Decalogue and detail the history of the Laboratory, linked to the concept of social investment.

Non official translation