Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is one of the largest cash transfer programs in the world. It targets social protection, poverty reduction and economic growth by delivering unconditional cash transfers, conditional cash transfers, human capital development and income generation programs. It is thus central to the IGC thematic and Pakistan country programme agendas on building effective states and on promoting economic growth through entrepreneurship and human capital accumulation.
BISP conducted a national household door-to-door survey over the period 2010-11, which marked the genesis of the National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER). The registry contains socioeconomic data of 27 million households. It not only provides poverty profile of each household but also data on key socio-economic indicators including household size, type of housing and toilet facilities, education, child status, household assets, agricultural landholding, and livestock ownership.
The analysis of NSER along with administrative data helps in designing evidence-based policies to improve the targeting and ensure transparency in delivering services. The research team has developed project using these datasets to provide useful insights to BISP management for further improvement in targeting. Empirical analysis was carried out on existing datasets and the findings were shared with BISP management. The findings provided insights into pendency, payment modes transition, and withdrawal behaviour of beneficiaries. As a result of these findings, the research team has proposed and is currently engaged in designing a study on mobilising take-up. This study will provide the opportunity to learn about any systematic patterns in pendency which will be useful to BISP as it is currently undergoing the process of updating the NSER and will be generating new lists of eligible beneficiaries.
The research team provided feedback to BISP on the NSER 2016-17 questionnaire and expanded the coverage of health indicators to include a question on infant mortality. As a national safety net program, it will be advantageous for BISP to learn the impact it has on child health outcomes. The research team is interested in analyzing the potential pathways by which BISP may be improving access to child health services for routine prevention and treatment.
BISP is currently engaged in discussions with various donors on strategising its graduation framework. The research team has proposed and is currently engaged in designing an experiment on graduation to find who to target and what graduation offers to make to transition the beneficiaries, who have the greatest potential of graduating, off of BISP and into earning sustainable livelihoods.