UCL Institute of the Americas


The Politics of Social Protection during Times of Crisis: COVID-19 & Cash Transfers in Latin America

21 October 2021, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

Democracy and Governance series _ COVID19_and_cash_transfers

An event part of the UCL Institute of the Americas series Democracy and Governance in the Americas

This event is free.

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UCL Institute of the Americas



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In March and April of 2020, as countries across Latin America shuttered their economies and urged citizens to stay home, it became clear that effective lockdowns would require states to provide income support. In a region that has historically struggled to build robust systems of social protection, the effort to expand state protection was notable. The initiatives varied in scope and generosity and they were implemented across vastly different economic, political, and structural settings, but in what seemed to signify a new era of state-building, Latin American states almost uniformly demonstrated a decisive commitment to providing at least a minimum benefit to the poor. Beyond this, there was massive variation in the breadth and sufficiency of assistance. Why did states vary in how they provided assistance, with some generating broad coverage and more generous benefits? This book documents the  variation in cash transfer responses in Latin America, ranging from a broad and sufficient response in Brazil to no national-level pandemic response in Mexico. It provides an overview of how 10 Latin American states responded to the crisis and tests an explanation for why the efforts varied across countries, focusing on the impact of the competitive environment and policy legacies, and fiscal space, as mediated by divided government.

This paper was co-authored by the speaker and Professor Jennifer Pribble (University of Richmond)


Professor Merike Blofield (German Institute for Global and Area Studies -- GIGA)

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