Building universal social policy in the south

Social policies that cover the whole population with similar generous entitlements could make a decisive contribution to reducing inequality in the South. They can also create more integrated societies and cross-class coalitions between the poor and the middle class. promoting universalism may be easier if countries combine different instruments, including social insurance and social assistance, than if they only try to build tax-funded, citizenship-based programmes.

How can countries move in the right direction? This project combines a comparative analysis of the cases of Costa Rica, Mauritius, South Korea and Uruguay and a detailed historical account of the Costa Rican experience to answer this question. We highlights the role of policy architectures - the combination of instruments that define who has access to what specific benefits, when and how - in promoting more or less universalism. Success in building ideal policy architectures comes as a result of democracy and progressive leadership as preconditions and active state actors and adequate international ideas as drivers. This project will result in a book to be published by Cambridge university press in 2016.

Diego Sánchez-Ancochea
Professor of the Political Economy of Development and Head of Department
Juliana Martinez Franzoni
Institute of Social Research, University of Costa Rica