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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Legislating and implementing welfare policy reforms: What works politically in Africa and why?

“Just giving money to the poor” through social assistance programmes (including ‘social pensions’, other unconditional grants, conditional cash transfers, and emergency employment programmes) has both passionate advocates and strong opponents. Africa - which is the region of the world where poverty is most resilient - includes some of the countries with the longest histories of social assistance in the global South (South Africa and Mauritius) and is the only region in the world where more is now spent on social assistance programmes than on social insurance programmes.

This research programme examines the politics of welfare programmes in Africa, ie what ‘works’ politically and why. The research will analyse the political conditions and factors that either favour or impede the enactment or implementation of social assistance programmes.

The research will cover:

  • agenda-setting
  • elite and public opinion
  • electoral, inter- and intra-party competition
  • the roles of civil society, international organisations, and donors
  • state institutions, technocrats and bureaucrats.

A crucially important question in the African context is how socio-economic inequalities and racial or ethnic diversity affect policy-making. Research will be conducted in mostly East and Southern African countries.