DSA2018: Global inequalities
- Nabila Idris (University of Cambridge) email
- Michael Tribe (University of Strathclyde) email
- Mozammel Huq (University of Strathclyde) email
The panel explores the socio-political and economic choices in developing social protection policies in the global South. Covering the issues raised when establishing income transfer systems, it particularly discusses the dynamics of power and interest of multiple stakeholders.
Social protection's marked presence in several of the SDGs has catapulted it into greater prominence recently. However, given countries in the global South are taking different routes to adopting social protection into their national agenda, whilst operating within a broader global policy milieu, there is a strong case for understanding local imperatives and how they are mediated by global factors. Equally important is to engage in the debate on whether social protection must be universal or targeted from a more political perspective that lies beyond the usual cost-benefit analysis. Studies on the socio-political impact of state-led welfare programs, once adopted, are also particularly sparse, especially in developing countries. Along with the relevant analysis of the politics of social protection, it is crucial to also gain an understanding of the relevant economic aspects centred on the controversy around the involvement of the state in income distribution. Whilst one camp justifies state intervention to maximise social welfare through income distribution, the opposing camp believes state intervention will hamper growth. Such in-depth scrutiny of social protection policies, both in their genesis and their consequences, not only has academic value but also practical implications as SDGs come to the forefront of our agenda.
This panel has so far received 21 paper proposal(s).
Campaign externalities, programmatic spending, and voting preferences in rural Mexico: The case of Progresa-Oportunidades-Prospera programme
We examine the electoral impacts of Mexico's Progresa-Oportunidades-Prospera (POP) programme. We find no electoral impacts in the 2000 and 2012 presidential elections, but just a negative one in the competitive presidential election of 2006. We offer a theoretical rationalization for our findings.
This study presents an analysis of the electoral impacts of one of the most prominent conditional cash transfers in the world: Mexico's Progresa-Oportunidades-Prospera (POP) programme. Using population censuses, and POP's administrative records and elections data, we exploit the
targeting criteria of the programme and its gradual expansion to implement difference-in-differences estimators and a regression discontinuity design for past presidential elections (2000, 2006, and 2012). Overall, we find no sizeable electoral effects of POP in favour to the
incumbent in the 2000 and 2012 presidential elections, but instead a significant negative effect in the very competitive presidential election of 2006. We provide a theoretical rationalization for this result, which highlights the role of behaviour towards risk near a subsistence threshold and ex-ante expectations among the poor in control localities that were influenced by campaign
externalities. We conclude with a discussion on the implications of our results for future theoretical and
Do criminally charged politicians deliver? Evidence from India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
Do criminally accused Members of the Legislative Assembly harm local benefit delivery in India? Using a regression discontinuity design, I estimate the causal impact of electing a "criminal" politician on the distribution of NREGS projects. Accused politicians complete fewer NREGS welfare projects.
Despite intense political competition, candidates facing criminal charges are routinely elected across India at higher rates than clean candidates. Once elected, how do "criminal" politicians perform in office? Using a mixed methods approach, I argue that criminal candidates' access to money and networks helps them win campaigns, even though they may underperform in office. To test if criminally accused politicians harm (or improve) benefit delivery at the local level, I construct a novel dataset detailing the criminal histories, wealth and electoral results of all state legislative candidates in India from 2003-2016. I combine the candidate dataset with original data on the geo-locations of over 20 million public works projects from India's largest anti-poverty scheme, the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREGS). Using a regression discontinuity design, I estimate the causal impact of electing a criminally accused politician on the distribution of NREGS projects. Preliminary results indicate that constituencies that elect a criminally accused politician complete fewer NREGS projects.
Inequality in fragile states: the World Bank and social protection
This paper looks at the evolution of the World Bank's approach to fragile states since the 1990s, and the role that social protection has played within these countries in achieving the Bank's 'twin goals' of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
Social protection has become a dominant strategy in the World Bank's toolkit as it seeks to achieve its 'twin goals' of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. However, its social protection strategies over the years have been predominantly focused on middle-income countries with strong institutional architecture. After years of minimal engagement, however, the World Bank has recently focused its attention on the issue of 'fragile and conflict-affected states', as it is predicted that over 50% of the global poor will reside in fragile and conflict-affected states by the year 2020. Drawing on documentary analysis and over 40 interviews with senior World Bank staff, this paper traces the development of the Bank's approach to fragile states since the 1990s, and analyses the role social protection has played over time within its developmental strategies in its fight to combat poverty and inequality in these countries.
Re-negotiating the state: a study of the Zambian state's role in "post-Washington Consensus" social protection policies
Based on empirical material from Zambia, this paper studies the possibility of the state in income redistribution. It finds that government-led social protection gains consensus where it is clearly targeted at the extreme poor, whereas the state is supposed to stay out of productive subsidies.
After a period of disengagement, the state is now back as a provider of social policy in many East and Southern African countries. Since the beginning of the 2000s, several governments have introduced policies targeted at vulnerable members of society. Part of the background was the realisation that macro economic adjustment policies had created losers, contributing to a discursive shift towards poverty reduction, or "adjustment with a human face". Some call the current stance the "post-Washington Consensus" but the controversy around the appropriate role of the state in income distribution is far from resolved. This paper asks: what type of state is possible today?
The paper is based on empirical research in Zambia, and compares a cash transfer programme with a subsidy for small scale farmers. It studies what type of state is negotiated in these new interventions. The starting point is the assumption that new relationships are formed in the new state-led social policies: Firstly, relationships between the state and the beneficiaries; and secondly, between the state and the international community. The comparison shows that the appropriate type of state involvement is still unresolved: While its engagement in basic social protection programme grows and is generally welcomed (and leads to deeper reach into society); there is domestic and international pressure to reduce its direct engagement in the subsidy programme. It appears that poverty reduction needs to be the overriding logic of any state engagement in order for it to reach an enabling consensus among domestic and international policy makers.
The political economy of social assistance in sub-Saharan Africa: Power relations, ideas and transnational policymaking
Comparative research on the political economy of elite commitment to social assistance in sub-Saharan Africa. QCA analysis of eight countries reveals the causal processes that underpin this shift and offers a challenge for contemporary interpretations of the drivers of social assistance in Africa.
This paper presents comparative research examining the political economy drivers of elite commitment to social assistance —particularly cash transfers — in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The rapidly growing number of countries with cash transfer schemes has been variously interpreted as a 'revolution from the Global South', a donor-driven initiative and/or as flowing from recent processes of democratisation. Although each perspective has some validity, we seek a deeper theoretical and empirical engagement to understand how multiple causal processes have combined to produce distinct patterns of reform. The research constitutes an engagement between the welfare state literature and recent work on the politics of development, particularly that on 'political settlements'.
Methodologically, the paper offers a new approach to analysing the politics of social assistance. Eight country cases (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) are subject to fuzzy sets / Qualitative Comparative Analysis that identifies two distinct pathways leading to the adoption and expansion of social assistance. The first involves highly centralised, dominant party settlements with a developmental agenda, which adopted social assistance as a solution to perceived existential crises threatening the ruling party. In the second, where power is more dispersed and electoral competition more influential, donors have established pilot schemes reflecting their favoured approaches. These pilots have gradually secured differing levels of elite support as local and national politicians see political opportunity in the highly visible disbursement of resources. At this early stage, it is the dominant developmental cases that have produced greater levels of elite commitment.
Understanding multiple trajectories of extending social protection to the poor - an analysis of institutional change in Kenya
The paper provides a framework for defining and explaining variations in reform dynamics across sub-pilllars of social-protection, and applies this framework to the Kenyan case focussing on cash transfer and social health protection reforms (process tracing approach with primary and secondary data).
Social protection reforms involve comprehensive processes of institutional change. The dynamics differ not only across but also within countries across social protection pillars. In order to develop integrated national social protection systems it is important to move away from an isolated view of single instruments towards a comparative understanding of reform dynamics across different sub-policy areas. The case of Kenya is one example for multiple institutional trajectories within a country: Whereas cash transfer reforms follow a pattern of cumulative incremental change, social health protection reforms reflect patterns of non-cumulative change including blocked reforms and reform reversals.
Being embedded within comparative institutional analysis the paper aims at (1) providing a systematic framework for defining and explaining variations in reform dynamics, and (2) applying this framework to the Kenyan case. The empirical methodology employs a process tracing approach including primary and secondary data.
The analysis suggests that firstly, stronger conflicting interests on social health insurance compared to cash transfers or fee waivers contributed to the observed differences in reform dynamics. Secondly, differences in information structures across domains facilitated the introduction of cash transfers and fee waivers, while providing additional impediments to social health insurance. Thirdly, pre-existing institutions within the domains induced stronger barriers to change for social health protection by shaping conflicting interests. Fourthly, a non-stationary reform context provided focal points facilitating coordination on programs targeted at specific vulnerable groups for defined benefits during early stages of the reform process, but supplies focal points supporting systemic approaches during more recent stages.
The politics of social protection: The holes in Bangladesh's safety nets logic
This study attempts to explain the politics behind the targeted 'safety nets' logic employed in Bangladesh's National Social Security Strategy. This is significant because targeted schemes can have a substantial impact on the type of social contract that develops in a country.
Recent developments in the study of social protection shows that the particular form social protection will take in a specific country will depend on the political settlement in that country. Mediated by both local and global factors, political settlement is the shared understanding among competing actors in a society, especially the elites, about the modality of distributing and exercising resources and power amongst themselves. To an extent, political settlement can be used to explain the design of Bangladesh's National Social Security Strategy too. Despite aspirations to the contrary, this Strategy is unable to escape the logic of targeted schemes for the poor, in the form of safety nets, frequently coining oxymoronic terms such as "targeted universal" to set its aims. Employing data from qualitative interviews of elite actors, along with document analysis, this study attempts to explain why the Strategy employs the logic of safety nets in the first place. This is significant because the literature shows the safety nets logic can have a substantial impact on the type of social contract that will develop in a country. The research also posits that the political settlement approach may have limitations when attempting to explain policymaking at the micro level.
The politics of implementation or why institutional context matters?: The role of traditional authorities in delivering pro-poor social policies in Kenya
The paper describes the implementation of the CT-OVC in three Kenyan counties that evolve between 'formal' and 'informal' institutions and processes. These hybrid delivery structures are not always dysfunctional to effective delivery, but have important complementing and substituting functions.
This paper questions the general assumption that pro-poor social policies - once an operational structure have been designed and guidelines for its implementation developed - are implemented evenly across geographic and political entities. Instead, a re-interpretation and adaption of operations and institutions delivering them is taking place, as they become enmeshed into the local political and institutional context. Describing the dynamic interplay of formal operational structures and institutions and traditional authorities as their informal counterpart in delivering the CT-OVC - the largest and oldest cash transfer programme in Kenya - we argue for the need to look more closely into local political economics as an important mediating arena for implementing social policies. While technical constraints play a role, such as limited human and financial capacity, implementation is heavily contingent upon the local social and political context that influence and shape its outcomes. Rather than making a static assessment of these institutional factors as either functional or dysfunctional in delivering effective social assistance programmes for the very poor, the article argues for an understanding of institutionalization processes as a highly dynamic and ambivalent interplay that evolves between 'formal' programme structures and 'informal' power structures and institutions. While programmes seem to settle into these local power-constellations, the institutionalization of programmes over time appears to create a new institutional equilibrium in which 'formal' rules and regulations are getting engrained and differentiate themselves out as separate autonomous structures
The State Role in Welfare: The Case of Ghana
This paper aims to set the economic context for state welfare programmes in developing countries, to describe a range of recent Ghanaian policy measures which aim to establish a social protection system, and to make an assessment of the impact of these measures.
The authors review the state role in welfare in Ghana in a chapter of their forthcoming book, The Economy of Ghana: 50 Years of Economic Development (Palgrave Macmillan). This paper develops the chapter into a country case study.
There is controversy regarding the involvement of the state in income distribution. Brown and Jackson (1990), Stiglitz (2000) and Musgrave (1959), among others, justify state intervention to maximise social welfare through income re-distribution, while Hayek (1960), Ryan (2012) and other libertarians are in opposition, believing that state intervention will hamper growth. The neoliberal agenda argues for spending limited state funds on infrastructural and other projects urgently needed to boost growth of the private enterprise sector, promoting sustainable economic growth through sectoral developments. However, social protection support programmes are increasingly being introduced in the 'developing world' and the Ghanaian experience is of great interest in this context.
The Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy for 2006-2009 relies on economic growth for the achievement of significant poverty reduction. However, a National Social Protection Strategy was adopted in 2008 aiming to prioritise sector-wide social protection interventions across the country. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection was reconstituted in 2013 with a focus on livelihoods and poverty reduction. Specific programmes include cash transfers, non-cash transfers, skills development, selective subsidies, and active labour market interventions. An ILO review of Ghanaian social protection measures was published in 2015.
The paper will present details of recent social protection policy in Ghana and attempt an assessment of its impact.
Unpacking 'government-owned, government-driven': Governments, donors and the politics of social protection in fragile and conflict-affected situations
'Government-owned and government-driven' has come a key principle for social protection, with implications for how governments, donors and NGOs work. This paper assesses the rationale for and effectiveness of the approach to social protection in fragile and conflict-affected countries.
In the last decade there has been a strong push towards ensuring that social protection policies and programmes in low income countries are owned and driven by national governments rather than external international actors. This approach is mirrored in the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, in which development partners have committed to supporting nationally-owned and led development plans.
This paper explores the 'government-owned, government-driven' agenda in social protection from the perspective of fragile and conflict-affected countries where social protection policies are frequently underpinned by additional and deeply political objectives such as statebuilding, stabilisation and enhancing state legitimacy, and where social protection can be a key component of political settlements.
Drawing on evidence from recent research, including a two-wave longitudinal perceptions survey in five conflict-affected countries, this paper assesses how far the delivery of social protection influences people's perceptions of governance, how far it can provide a peace or statebuilding dividend, and how these preoccupations influence programme, targeting and implementation choices.
Overall, the paper finds that the relationship between social protection and people's perceptions of government is far less linear than is assumed in government and donor policies, and that there are good reasons to be cautious about moving too quickly to a government-owned, government-driven social protection system in conflict-affected and post-conflict countries.
This panel has so far received 21 paper proposal(s).