Delivering effective social assistance

Report
Delivering effective social assistance: Does politics matter?*
Armando Barrientos, BWPI, University of Manchester, UK ([email protected])
Sony Pellissery, Institute of Rural Management, Anand, India ([email protected])
*available from http://www.effective-states.org/publications/workingpapers/workingpaper9.htm
DSA Annual Conference 2012 – Panel 3 Effective States and Inclusive Development
November 3rd, Institute of Education, London
The paper in brief
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Introduction – why look at the politics of social assistance?
Two way process: politics shapes social assistance
programmes, but also feedback effects
Case Studies: India, Brazil and South Africa
Framework for studying the linkages between politics and
the expansion of social assistance
The politics of social assistance in developing countries
The politics of adoption, design and budgets
What are the political conditions leading to the adoption of antipoverty
programmes?
The effects of social assistance on politics
Do social assistance programmes strengthen the support for incumbents?
Is social assistance clientelist in developing countries?
Implications for delivery
Table 1. Politics and social assistance: India, Brazil and South Africa
India
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Political
processes
shaping
social
assistance
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Social
assistance
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Feedback
effects from 
social
assistance
to politics

Brazil
Continued democracy since
independence, but Constitution
recognized social assistance
only as desirable activity
Multiple political parties and
fragmented opposition
Local/sub-national governments
initially provide social
assistance and later national
governments extend them

Proliferation of programmes
Shift towards inclusive growth
agenda through rights based
social assistance
Strong constituencies around
the PDS and BPL lead
opposition to rights based
approach
Process deficits and uneven
implementation of NREGS
indicates primacy of state
politics
Social assistance helps align
electoral support at State level
Capture at delivery stage of
social assistance reinforces
clientelistic and identity politics
at local level
State-center relations means
stratified feedback
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South Africa
1988 Constitution a new social
contract after 20 years of
dictatorship
Party fragmentation and weak
party allegiance
Parliamentary activism and
scrutiny
Federal structure, with federal
government-municipalities
partnership on implementation
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Rapid growth of social assistance
Organic growth of flagship
programme, from municipal
activism to federal policy
Shift from vulnerable group
approach in the Constitution, to
citizenship based means tested
guaranteed minimum income
Rules based and rights based
social assistance
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Bolsa Familia associated with Lula 
and Workers Party contributes to
electoral success
Poverty and social assistance at
the center of policy and political
debates

Municipal leaders share credit for
effectiveness of social assistance 
1996 Constitution a new social
contract after the fall of Apartheid
Governing coalition faces weak
opposition, strong allegiance to
ANC based on racial politics
Federal structure but central
government rules social
assistance after unevenness in
provision under Apartheid
Social assistance instrumental to
managing social and economic
transition from apartheid rule
Rules-based and rights-based
social assistance, through means
tested cash transfers
Vulnerable groups approach but
wide reach of antipoverty transfers
Social assistance reinforces ANC
support, especially in the context
of low growth, high
unemployment, and conventional
macroeconomics
Poverty and equity at the center of
policy and political debate
Wide political and public support
for social assistance
Table 2. An incremental framework for examining the influence of politics on social assistance in developing countries
Adding complexity incrementally--------------------------
Direct democracy
Representative democracy
Plus a measure of government Plus participation
autonomy
What does the
analysis abstracts
from?
Political processes
shaping social
assistance
Representatives
Government
Civil society & NGOs
Preference
aggregation
Government
Civil society & NGOs
Civil society & NGOs
Electoral support
Party competition/ coalition
Policy priority setting
Accountability
Public support
Interest groups
Key social
assistance
dimension
Practical
issues/findings
relevant to social
assistance
Adoption
Design, incidence, and
budget
(De)centralization
Agency competition/
cooperation
Horizontal and vertical
integration
Implementation
Forms of accountability
Participatory processes
Feedback effects
Social pacts - social
contracts – access
order
Beneficiary selection
Transfer level and type
Coverage
Agency coordination,
Monitoring and Evaluation
Local political support and
power
Autonomy of local
bureaucracies
Critical issues
Social contract
renewal
Social pacts?
Coalitions?
Influence of donors in
LICs
Federal/Estate/District politics,
responsibility/gains
Technical and political
networks
Public perceptions of
effectiveness
Elections
Closed or open source models
Political sustainability
Managing political change
(changes in government, etc.)
Broad coalition building
Feedback into political processes
Principles and values Design
(citizenship/contributi Reach/incidence
on/ dessert)
Budgets
Lead agency
Party dominance
Coalition formation/
stability
Electoral support
Pro-poorness
Building and maintaining
coalitions
Interests and values
Basis for electoral advantage
Credibility and trust
Competitive versus identity
politics
Opportunities for reform/
scale up
Accountability
Evolution over time
Sustainability of social assistance
Priority to poverty reduction
Influence of civil society & NGOs
Conclusions
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Politics has a strong influence on the adoption, design, and
budgets for social assistance
In turn, social assistance programmes have feedback effects on
politics at the local and national levels
Literature on this is growing, but it is piecemeal focusing at the
programme/country level
Existing models of the politics of distribution/poverty reduction
fail to explain the current expansion of social assistance in
developing countries
An incremental ‘concertina’ approach which separates out the
different dimensions of influence has a better chance of
capturing and organising the complex relationship between
politics and social assistance
Politics matter for the implementation and sustainability of
social assistance

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