Accepted paper:

The politics of social protection in Ghana: feedback effects, citizenship and state capacity


Mohammed Ibrahim (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates whether, and in what ways, Ghana's Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty and National Health Insurance Scheme shape citizenship and state capacity differently. It departs from recent political analysis that assume a unidirectional causal link between politics and policy.

Paper long abstract:

Recent debates on social policy in developing countries have underscored the need to move beyond technocratic analysis by emphasising the primacy of politics in adoption and implementation. Yet, this emerging literature is limited in enhancing our understanding of how social policies elicit particular kinds of effects which in turn feed back into political processes. Drawing on lessons from the welfare-state literature, we problematize how Ghana's Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) shape citizenship and state capacity, and how this may in turn influence the nature of social and political relations among relevant actors, and inclusive development more broadly. Based on case studies in two implementation districts with varying state capacity, we analyse data from 115 interviews with programme beneficiaries, government officials, service providers, donors, FGDs and small survey, conducted over a nine-month period, to interrogate the proposition that targeted and universal/contributory social protection programmes may lead to different social and political outcomes. Our preliminary findings suggest that the two programmes have built the capacity of the state to deliver public services through various interpretive and resource effects. However, and contrary to welfare-state literature, beyond satisfying the resource needs of beneficiaries and transforming local-level relations, there is little evidence that these programmes have contributed to building a more active citizenry through greater political engagement. Nor do we find any marked difference in the extent to which beneficiaries of the two programmes are able to or (disabled from) exercising voice on the quality of service delivery.

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The politics of implementing social protection programmes: political competition, state capacity and policy feedback [paper]