From welfare to poverty management…

Lena Lavinas: What is taking place—spurred on by the ‘success story’ of CCTS—is a downsizing of social protection in the name of the poor. Over the past six years these programmes have benefited from boom conditions, as surplus capital flooded into ‘emerging economies’ from the crisis-stricken advanced capitalist zones. Yet how they will weather a reversal of capital flows and tightening of credit, if quantitative easing in the North finally starts to slow, remains to be seen.

21ST CENTURY WELFARE, by Lena Lavinas.

Read article for free at New Left Review, n. 84/2013


Latin America has long served as a proving ground for economic and political experiments that later acquire a global reach: the shock therapy of neoliberalism was followed by structural adjustment programmes that were visited on debt-stricken states across the continent in the 1980s, before being rolled out in Africa and elsewhere. Since the late 1990s, the region has also served as the laboratory for what the Economist has called ‘the world’s favourite new anti-poverty device’: conditional cash transfer programmes (ccts) which, as their name suggests, supply monetary benefits as long as recipients can demonstrate that they have met certain conditions. In 1997, only three Latin American countries had launched such programmes; a decade later, the World Bank reported that ‘virtually every country’ in the region had one, and others outside it were adopting them ‘at a prodigious rate’. By 2008, 30 countries had them, from India, Turkey and Nigeria to Cambodia, the Philippines and Burkina Faso; even New York City had put one in place.

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