Researching the politics of development



Delivering effective social assistance: does politics matter?

Working paper 9

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Armando Barrientos and Sony Pellissery


The paper examines the significance of politics in the rise of social assistance programmes in developing countries in the last decade. It finds this is a two-way process. Politics is crucial to the adoption, design and implementation of social assistance programmes. They also have a feedback effect on local and national politics. The paper develops a framework for distinguishing the different dimensions of influence. It applies this framework to study the development of social assistance in India, Brazil and South Africa. It employs a comparative perspective to identify key approaches, findings, and knowledge gaps in the politics of social assistance.