H. Xavier Jara And María Gabriela Palacio Ludeña (2024) – Rethinking social assistance amid the COVID-19 pandemic: guaranteeing the right to income security in Ecuador

In the face of increased uncertainty and a slow economicrecovery, it is crucial to protect populations from the effectsof systemic crises beyond the narrow goal of poverty reduc-tion. In Ecuador, social assistance programs had little effectin reducing earnings losses caused by the COVID-19 pan-demic, leading to a renewed discussion on the implementa-tion of a universal basic income (UBI). This study evaluatesthe potential impact of social assistance reforms using tax-benefit microsimulation techniques. Four simulated coun-terfactual reforms are assessed, ranging from an extensionof current social assistance programs to the implementationof UBI, which would replace existing programs and be par-tially funded through progressive personal income tax andsocial security contributions. Our findings demonstrate thatpoverty and inequality would decrease significantly underthe more generous UBI scenarios. This research contributesto the ongoing debate on the potential benefits of UBI inreducing poverty and inequality and emphasizes the impor-tance of considering alternative social assistance reforms inthe face of growing systemic challenges.