Bootstraps not Band-Aids: Poverty, Equity and Social Policy in Latin America
AbstractAfter a decade of economic reforms that dramatically altered the structure of economies in Latin America, making them more open and more competitive, and a decade of substantial increases in public spending on education, health and other social programs in virtually all countries, poverty and high inequality remain deeply entrenched. In this paper we ask the question whether some fundamentally different approach to what we call “social policy” in Latin America could make a difference – both in increasing growth and in directly reducing poverty. We define social policy broadly to include economy-wide (“macro” and employment and other structural) policies that affect poverty and social justice in foreseeable ways, as well as social investment programs such as health and education and social protection programs including cash and other transfers targeted to the poor and others vulnerable to economic and other shocks. Section 1 contains a brief review of what is known about the links among poverty, inequality and growth in the region and elsewhere. We emphasize the relevance of empirical work showing that income poverty combined with inequality in access to credit and to such assets as land and education contributes to low growth and directly to low income growth of the poor. In Section 2 we focus on the effects of the market reforms of the last 10-15 years on poverty and inequality in the region, based on empirical studies using household data. We emphasize the finding that the reforms have not contributed to reducing poverty and inequality. Though reforms have not particularly worsened the situation of the poor, they have not addressed the underlying structural causes of high poverty, i.e. the poor’s lack of access to credit and to productivity-enhancing assets. In Section 3 we describe briefly four stages of social policy in the region over the last four decades. In Section 4 we propose a more explicitly “bootstraps”-style social policy, focused on enhancing productivity via better distribution of assets. We set out how this broader social policy could address the underlying causes and not just the symptoms of the region’s unhappy combination of high poverty and inequality with low growth. Length: 32 pages
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Center for Global Development in its series Working Papers with number 24.
Date of creation: Feb 2003
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.cgdev.org
Latin America; poverty; equity; social policy;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
- J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
- O54 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean
- O40 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
- O15 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
- I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare and Poverty - - - General Welfare
- I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2006-09-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAM-2006-09-03 (Central & South America)
- NEP-PKE-2006-09-03 (Post Keynesian Economics)
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Boucher, Stephen R. & Barham, Bradford L. & Carter, Michael R., 2005. "The Impact of "Market-Friendly" Reforms on Credit and Land Markets in Honduras and Nicaragua," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 107-128, January.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David Roodman).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.