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How to Use ASPIRE

ASPIRE is an essential benchmarking tool providing open and accessible data for policymakers, civil society, development organizations, and other stakeholders on:

  • The entire population’s social and economic status
  • Assessment of SPL programs, including weakness such as low coverage and poor targeting
  • Program impact on poverty and inequality
  • Programs individually or as a system
  • Ways to improve household data collection for SPL programs

ASPIRE allows for calculations of global estimates of population covered by SPL systems, comparisons among regions, and development of examples of how social safety nets make a difference for the poor, giving data harmonization.

ASPIRE covers 57 countries, mostly in the developing world, from 2005-2010. It contains information on almost 5 million individuals in 1.3 million households. Currently, the database includes nearly 69 harmonized surveys for 2005-2010. Coverage of countries in Africa and Middle East-North Africa is limited but we expect to increase it in the coming months.

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Tool for Practitioners

Lags in data availability mean that ASPIRE is the most updated compilation of household surveys to provide global estimates of social protection, although more recent data can be available for countries that will be uploaded to ASPIRE twice a year.

As a statistical benchmarking tool, ASPIRE enlarges the scope of SPL program analysis by collecting information on the presence of SPL directly from beneficiaries, providing valuable information to evaluate how SPL programs and policies are working. This approach, an important complement to the more standard cache of knowledge collected through countries’ Management Information Systems (admin data), allows for an immediate understanding of people’s experience at the individual and household levels.

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Data Harmonization and Indicators

ASPIRE harmonizes SPL on the program, indicator, and poverty levels.


First, to harmonize the data across programs, the Atlas groups all identified transfers received by households into two main categories: Public Transfers; and Private Transfers (from individuals, nongovernmental organizations, national, and international institutions).

Then Public Transfers programs are grouped into three main categories: Social Insurance, Labor Market Programs and Social Assistance in 11 sub-categories (see box).

ASPIRE Countries and Harmonized Programs (300kb xlsx)

Social Protection : Public Transfers

Twelve Key Indicators

Second, working through the World Bank ADePT SP software, 12 key indicators are applied:

  1. Average per capita transfers: Average per capita transfer among program beneficiaries (daily $ppp) for the population and by quintiles of post-transfer welfare distribution.

  2. Coverage: % of population participating in Social Protection programs for the population and by quintiles of post-transfer welfare distribution.

  3. Beneficiary Incidence: % of program beneficiaries relative to the total number of beneficiaries by quintile of the post-transfer welfare distribution.

  4. Benefit Incidence: % of benefits going to each quintile of the post-transfer welfare distribution.

  5. Leakage: % of benefits going to the non poor population accordingly to the post-transfer welfare distribution.

  6. Targeting differential: Difference between the coverage rate and the leakage to the non-poor population, measuring how good (100) or bad (-100) the targeting method is.

  7. Coady-Grosh-Hoddinott indicator: Ratio of the value of transfers going to the poorest to the (relative) size of the same group in the population.

  8. Generosity: % of the total transfers received divided the welfare of the beneficiaries for the population and by quintiles of post-transfer welfare distribution.

  9. Poverty and Inequality reduction: Simulated change (%) on poverty headcount, poverty gap and on Gini inequality simulating the absence of the programs.

  10. Cost benefit ratio: Reduction in poverty gap obtained for each $1 spent in the program.

  11. Program duplication: % of population receiving assistance from none or multiple programs.

  12. Overlap: % of population receiving assistance from multiple main categories.

Three of these indicators -- coverage, benefit incidence, and generosity – are core measures, universally applicable to any SPL program and system as a whole. It is important to ensure that even universal, untargeted programs cover all in need and have progressive effect on distribution of well-being, and that they help reduce poverty by providing adequate support to beneficiaries.

Defining Poverty

Third, the main poverty level is set as a relative poverty line that classifies the bottom 20% population of the post-transfer welfare distribution as poor. Additionally, all welfare estimates are presented in 2005 purchasing power parity (PPP) values.

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