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Accepted Paper:

The politics of social protection targeting: an examination of the nexus between state infrastructural power and political competition in shaping social transfer delivery in northern Ghana  
Edward Ampratwum (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the politics underpinning targeting of social transfers in Ghana. Drawing on comparative case analysis, the paper demonstrates that regardless of state infrastructural power, the nature of political competition within districts exerts a stronger sway on targeting effectiveness.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the political dynamics underpinning the targeting of social transfers in Ghana. The Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) programme as a centrally designed social transfer is executed through decentralised state offices with varying capacities and political conditions. While evaluations have highlighted LEAP’s transformative outcomes, there are considerable variations in the scale and effectiveness of the programme across districts. The puzzle this paper explores is why LEAP is targeted better in some districts in northern Ghana than others despite having similar existing weak state infrastructural power? The paper explores the role of state infrastructural power and local political contexts in the application of targeting procedures. This paper is based on comparative case studies in two districts in the Upper West Region of Ghana, using a conceptual framework that combines institutionalist perspectives, and literature on coalitional relations in producing a variation in performance. It draws on 110 in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with sub-national political and social elites, bureaucrats, and beneficiaries. The paper finds that despite similarities in state infrastructural power across districts in the northern part of Ghana, the main factor shaping variation in the targeting of social transfers is the degree of political competitiveness within districts, with more competitive districts tending towards less effectiveness in the application of targeting procedures.

Panel P27b
The politics of expanding and sustaining social protection: continuities and ruptures in unsettled times II
  Session 1 Thursday 1 July, 2021, -