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Fachbereich Sozialpolitik und Soziale Sicherung

Handbook on Social Protection Systems

Esther Schüring, the head of our master's programme "Analysis and Design of Social Protection Systems" has edited the Handbook in a joint effort with Markus Loewe, research team lead at the German Development Institute.

Introduction of the Handbook

Esther Schüring and Markus Loewe introduce the Handbook by providing their definition of social protection systems and describing how they got the idea for creating the handbook. The two editors also speak about the content and the key learning. 


The handbook is both an introductory reading for students and practitioners and a compendium of issues that are of interest to social protection experts. On 776 pages, it gives a comprehensive and globally relevant overview of the instruments, actors and key design issues of social protection systems, as well as their application and effects in practice. The main focus is on system building, harmonization across social protection programmes and delivery mechanisms but the handbook also highlights the importance of linkages to other policy fields and related subject areas such as taxation, humanitarian aid and livelihood approaches. Moreover, it addresses the need to prepare social protection systems for possible future challenges such as demographic change, globalization, automation, climate change and pandemics.

67 renowned experts from practice and academia and 22 different countries in all world regions have contributed to the handbook, which contains 43 chapters and 18 case studies spanning from the Global South to the Global North. Thereby, the handbook mixes academic debates with empirical cases and practical recommendations on how greater harmonization across social protection policies, programmes and delivery mechanisms can be achieved.

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The handbook is available as a hardcopy book, a global free access e-book and as a multimedia version optimised for access from mobile phones. 


Schüring, Esther / Loewe, Markus (eds.) (2021): Handbook on Social Protection Systems, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 776 pages. ISBN: 978-1-83910-911-9, global free access at: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781839109119

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The interactive multimedia version of the Handbook allows for easy reading through key facts and highlights in addition to the full content of the print version. It is also possible to search for keywords, create your own highlights and store notes. Videos and podcasts with renowned experts supplement the chapters with insights from practice and topical discussions; quizzes and discussion questions serve to test your comprehension.

Lutz Leisering, University of Bielefeld, Germany

‘A unique tour de force through the world of social protection. The volume is distinguished by a novel systemic approach that takes account of the entire range of instruments, institutions, policies and actors that make up social protection. First-rate experts from more than 20 countries get down to the nitty-gritty of social protection systems, combining overview chapters with exemplary case studies across the global South and North. This Handbook sets new standards! It is highly recommended to researchers and practitioners alike.’

Armando Barrientos, Professor Emeritus, University of Manchester, UK

‘The Handbook provides a comprehensive introduction to social protection systems, their functions, components, and outcomes. Its global scope, astute treatment of theory and policy, and appropriate case studies, should ensure the Handbook becomes an indispensable resource for policy makers, students, and researchers alike.’

James Midgley, University of California Berkeley, US

‘The editors and contributors to the Handbook on Social Protection Systems have made an important contribution to the literature, ranging widely over the field and providing in-depth analyses of the complex dimensions of social protection policies and programs around the world. The Handbook will be the definitive work on social protection for many years to come and should be widely consulted.’