Precipitated by rapid globalization, rising inequality, population growth, and longevity gains, social protection programs have been on the rise in developing countries in the last three decades. However, the introduction of public benefits could displace informal mechanisms for risk-protection, which are especially prevalent in developing countries. In this paper, we critically survey the recent empirical literature on crowd-out effects in response to public policies, specifically in the context of developing countries. We review and synthesize patterns from the behavioral response to various types of social protection programs. Furthermore, we specifically examine for heterogeneous treatment effects by important socioeconomic characteristics. We conclude by drawing on lessons from our synthesis of studies.
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