Prospects for Basic Income in Developing Countries: A Comparative Analysis of Welfare Regimes in the South

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Centre for Social Science Research

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University of Cape Town

This paper explores the prospects for future pro-poor reforms to welfare regimes in the ‘South’ through an analysis of the development of Southern welfare regimes in the past. Esping-Andersen’s approach to the analysis of distribution is inadequate in Southern conditions primarily due to its neglect of the ways in which states influence distribution through shaping the development or economic growth path. Even if we narrow our analysis to the provision of income security, EspingAndersen’s ‘three worlds’ typology is less useful in the South than an alternative typology that distinguishes between ‘agrarian’, ‘inegalitarian corporatist’ and ‘redistributive’ welfare regimes. The ‘redistributive’ regimes are those that entail significant social assistance, i.e. provision for a minimum cash income, at least for specified categories of ‘deserving’ poor, that is not dependent on past contributions. These (rare) regimes have their origins in both reform from above (pre-emptive action by elites concerned with the social, economic and political problems posed by poverty) or below, following democratisation. In most cases, the prerequisites for reform are deagrarianisation (and the collapse of kin-based poverty alleviation) and the limited development of formal contributory welfare systems in the formal sector of the economy. Well-developed insurance systems can easily impede the development of social assistance. The electoral strength of poor citizens not covered by social insurance is a crucial factor in most cases, especially recent ones.