- September 2020
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- The expansion of social welfare regimes in middle-income countries (MICs) has become a global trend that has involved the adaption of robust social assistance programs aiming to alleviate poverty and diminish inequalities. We analyze conditional cash transfers in Brazil, Mexico, and Turkey, identifying the types of regulatory regimes that exist in each, namely "loose decentralism" in Brazil, "strict centralism" in Mexico, and "subcontracted dirigisme" in Turkey. We argue that regulatory design is key to understanding how the newly flourishing welfare regimes can control political manipulation, and that where manipulation occurs, social assistance programs can deviate from their initial objectives and endanger the welfare of the poor and hazard trust in the government and political institutions. However, when social welfare regimes work in line with their objectives and eschew political discretion, regulatory welfare states can enhance trust in and legitimacy of political institutions. Our analysis indicates that a centrally regulated social assistance governance nurtured by local knowledge is key to avoiding political manipulation and to alleviating poverty, major issues in MICs.
- social assistance; conditional cash transfers; regulatory welfare state; brazil; mexico; turkey