Social Protection, Economic Growth and Social Change

Social Protection, Economic Growth and Social Change

Goals, Issues and Trajectories in China, India, Brazil and South Africa

Edited by James Midgley and David Piachaud

This highly original and thought-provoking book examines the recent expansion of social protection in China, India, Brazil and South Africa – four countries experiencing rapid economic growth and social change.

Chapter 11: Political dimensions of social protection in Brazil

Anthony Hall

Subjects: development studies, development economics, development studies, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, social policy in emerging countries


Much attention has recently been focused on the relative success of Brazil’s social protection policies in addressing acute poverty. Chapters by Sergei Soares (Chapter 10), and by Bastagli and Soares (Chapter 12), in this volume, bear ample witness to their positive impact on levels of poverty and inequality in Brazil since the 1990s. However, while the spotlight has been shone on their technical efficiency and effective, municipalised implementation procedures, for example, the key political drivers that underpin and sustain ‘social assistance’ in Brazil should not be ignored or downplayed – especially in the case of the high-profile Bolsa Família (BF). In this and other such protection programmes, political factors have been instrumental in the birth and evolution of these policies, and will continue to be so into the foreseeable future. In Chapter 2, Midgley observes that social protection programmes simultaneously serve several goals: welfare, economic and political. Brazil is no exception, and a number of complementary political factors have driven forward Brazil’s social assistance agenda.

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