The political economy of social protection adoption

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Munich Personal RePEc Archive
Available from: 
August 2021
Paper author(s): 
Miguel Niño-Zarazúa
Alma Santillán Hernández
Politics and Economy

Over the past two decades, social protection has become an integral part of antipoverty policy strategies in the Global South, signalling a major shift in development thinking, moving away from traditional food aid and fuel and commodity subsidies towards more reliable and predictable forms of targeted interventions. Growing evidence showing generally positive impacts of social protection programmes has supported the adoption and expansion of these policies (Baird et al. 2013; Barrientos and Niño-Zarazúa 2010; Bastagli et al. 2019; Hillier-Brown et al. 2019; Kabeer and Waddington 2015; Lagarde et al. 2007; Malerba and Niño-Zarazúa Forthcoming; Owusu-Addo and Cross 2014). Social protection includes distinctive policy strategies within social insurance and social assistance, and labour market regulations. In this chapter, we focus on social assistance (which we refer to hereafter as social transfers), as they represent the most important changes to social protection policies in recent times (see Chapter 2). Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) such as Brazil’s Bolsa Familia and Mexico’s Progresa-Oportunidades-Prospera; social pensions such as South Africa’s Old-Age Pension and India’s Indira Gandhi National Old-Age Pension Scheme; pure cash transfers such as China’s (Urban and Rural) DiBao and South Africa’s Child Support Grant; and public works such as Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program and India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme are prominent examples of this wave of social protection in the Global South.


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