Political Crisis and Institutional Resilience: Conditional Cash Transfers under Scrutiny in Brazil and Philippines

In: Asian International Studies Review
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Extraordinary political transitions in 2016 in two middle-income developing countries, Brazil and the Philippines, may adversely affect efforts to reduce poverty and gender/social inequalities through Conditional Cash Transfers (‘CCTs’). This paper investigates institutional conditions governing CCTs in these two countries and reflects on the potential impacts of policy incursions. The proposition here is that sound developmental programmes can produce broad and compelling within-institution influences as well as causal cross-institution linkages in other domains. New and quickly successful programmes can also be targets for policy assaults and subversions. How resilient are social protection institutions like CCTs to political shocks? Applying Levitsky and Way’s (2015) concept of timing and sequencing in authoritarian regime durability to the question of institutional resilience, this comparative-historical case study aims to examine three issues: the processes traced by CCT evolution that in each case relate to institutional resilience, the factors contributing to policy shocks, and the resilience of CCTs in response to seismic macro-political change. The approach takes varieties of knowledge as a valuable alternative to neoliberal structures of domination and contributes to the important and urgent need to understand social protection institutions as human development resources of variable durability.

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