Beyond Social Protection: Labour Markets, Entrepreneurship, and Gender Equality

Traditionally, in most countries in Latin America, only workers legally registered by their employees and paying into social security were eligible for social protection programs, even though most countries in the region have high levels of unregistered employment, ranging from 15% in Uruguay to 70% in Bolivia.

Several countries in the region have started to address the gaps in coverage by adding protection for those outside the reach of the traditional system. However, speculations about potential labour disincentives and a "culture of dependency" abound.

This project will examine how non-contributory social protection affects labour supply and entrepreneurship, and what complementary policies are needed to enhance the impact of social protection programs. The project will evaluate three social protection programs - in Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay - to inform discussions on the design and reform of programs in the region and influence international debates on the issue.

Using state-of-the-art evaluation methodologies, combined with qualitative studies, the project will examine and quantify the response of individuals within the household, uncovering gender dynamics. Interaction among social protection programs will be analyzed using innovative approaches in Peru and Colombia. In the case of Peru, the project will also examine how the program affects the local economy, including local markets as well as informal networks of support.

Project ID


Project status



48 months

IDRC Officer

Carolina Robino

Total funding

CA$ 743,700


Colombia, West Indies, North and Central America, South America, Peru, Uruguay

Project Leader

Mónica L. Parra Torrado (former PL)


Fundación para la Educación Superior y el Desarrollo

Institution Country


Institution Website