Accepted paper:

Exploring the uptake of conditional cash transfers in the Global South: a comparative political economy analysis in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia


Ana Lucia Badillo Salgado (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Emma Lynn Cantal (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Benedict Yiyugsah (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Paper short abstract:

This paper argues that the diffusion of CCTs in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia is engendered by external influences, facilitated by transnationalised policy elites in the country cases. It maintains that the targeting modality embodied by CCTs is reinforcing selectivity and residualism.

Paper long abstract:

This paper investigates the diffusion and convergence in the adoption of Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) in Ghana and Zambia (Africa), Ecuador and Paraguay (Latin America), and Cambodia and the Philippines (Southeast Asia). It argues that the similarity of the schemes and mechanisms through which they were introduced and eventually adopted in these countries is partly caused by donors/international actors wielding influence in domestic social policymaking within the context of asymmetrical policy space and power relations. However, the paper does not conceive of external influences/pressures to occur in a deterministic manner, but rather, through the willing participation of policy elites who have internalised transnational interests, and hence, could not be identified as purely domestic actors. Unlike extant explanations that tend to be one-dimensional, the paper seeks a more nuanced interpretation based on critical assessments of the complex interaction between external and domestic political economy variables. This entails tackling such questions as how do external influences/pressures take place; what and who constitutes the external and domestic; and how do tensions resulting from the competing interests and power asymmetries of policy actors play out in social policymaking. Moreover, we question CCTs' purported success. Fieldwork conducted in 2017, coupled with a documentary analysis of the social protection and fiscal systems yield evidence demonstrating that CCTs, which are implemented in tandem with social registries of poor households, have reinforced selectivity and residualism, as well as inequities within broader systems of social protection.

panel M4
Deconstructing the political economy of policy diffusion in developing countries through the case of social protection