Towards a New Poverty Agenda in Asia: Social Policies and Economic Transformation

Books

Arjan de Haan

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
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    List of Tables and Graphs

    Tables
    • I.1 Asian Transformation 3
    • I.2 Comparing Social Policy: China and India 8
    • 2.1 Real 2005 GDP Shares (in Percent) of the World's Regions 46
    • 2.2 Well-being and Inequality in Asia 61
    • 3.1 Aid Dependency in Africa 75
    • 3.2 Government Revenue and Spending as Percentage of GDP 79
    • 5.1 Socio-economic Development in Selected Latin American Countries 125
    • 5.2 Government Spending in Latin America 128
    • 6.1 Socio-economic Development in Selected African Countries 143
    • 6.2 Public and Social Spending in Africa 152
    • 7.1 Social Expenditure in Asia 166
    Graphs
    • I.1 Poverty Trends: Regional Differences 3
    • 1.1 Human Development Index and Social Spending 43
    • 3.1 National Income and Government Spending 80
    • 3.2 Human Development Index and Public Spending 85

    List of Boxes

    • 1.1 China's Stimulus Package after the Financial Crisis—Turning Point in its Development Model? 21
    • 1.2 Ideologies behind Health Systems and Reforms across the OECD 28
    • 3.1 Globalization and Backlash in the Netherlands 83
    • 4.1 Poverty Analysis as Advocacy in Vietnam 101
    • 4.2 Targeting in the Egyptian Social Fund 104
    • 5.1 Participation in Local Public Policy: Porto Alegre's Experience 132
    • 5.2 New Social Policy in Brazil: Non-contributory Schemes 136
    • 6.1 Public Policies in Conflict Context 148
    • 6.2 Social Pensions in South Africa 150
    • 6.3 Cash Transfers in Africa: The Example of Kenya 159
    • 6.4 Social Policy Financing in Ghana 160
    • 7.1 China's Urban di bao169
    • 7.2 China's Social Policy Response to the Crisis 174
    • 7.3 Universalizing Social Insurance in Vietnam 181
    • 8.1 Social Spending in India 192
    • 8.2 The Dismantling of Sri Lanka's Welfare State and the Conflict 194
    • 8.3 Inequality Traps and Public Policy in Orissa 195
    • 8.4 Dualism and Advocacy: SEWA 198
    • 8.5 A New Social Contract in Nepal? 202

    Preface

    Since the 1990s, poverty has become the overarching theme of international development debates. And even inequality has entered, or returned to, the mainstream of development publications like the Human Development Report and World Development Report. Around the turn of the century, a growing strand of literature also started to pay attention to the role of social policy, based on the critique of the residual nature in which social policy or development has been framed during the period of structural adjustment, and liberal and neo-liberal paradigms of economic analysis and public policy making.

    Building on this new strand of social policy research—manifested by Bob Deacon, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), the University of Bath, Morales-Gómez, and others—I published my own contribution (de Haan, 2007b) as a development practitioner working at one of the older and larger international development agencies, the Department for International Development (DFID). Around the time, there were signs that a more proactive and developmental notion of social policy was starting to be adopted. But various trends appear to continue to work against this. There is a continued tension between a focus on poverty and emphasis on targeting, and a broader developmental approach that UNRISD and others have emphasized. Another important constraint to the debate has been the emphasis on achieving impact, tangible results visible to stakeholders and taxpayers, and “aid effectiveness”—while desirable in itself, this continues to stymie the thinking about the long-term project of enhancing capacities of development states. The entry of the new “vertical” initiatives, the many new and private agencies like the Gates Foundation, and perhaps even the recent emphasis on “social protection” and cash transfer can have a similar impact, taking the attention away—though by no means intentionally—from the wide range of public policy capacity that is required for development in the broad sense. And increasing attention has focused on the role of the international community in fragile states, where the conditions for developmental public policies are thought to be absent.

    So, the global debate and practices continue to throw up sufficient questions to justify continued analysis of social policy ideas and practices across the globe. This book focuses on these issues in Asia, and I am aware that “limiting” oneself from a global scope to one that covers over 3 billion people, more than 900 million of whom live under the poverty line as redefined by the World Bank in 2008, in itself is hardly convincing for those who rightly emphasize the need to understand development in specific national and historical context. I saw three sets of reasons to further develop the arguments regarding the role of social policy in an Asian context. First, the international debate matters across Asia: it influences the public debate, for example, in Vietnam which has been quick to adopt and try out different approaches; it matters in China where experimenting using national and international knowledge has been a key part of its reform approach since 1978; and it is important in India even though the debate tends to be one of contestation rather than of (mutual) learning.

    Second, as I hope to illustrate in this book, making comparisons across Asia appear to be particularly fruitful, and largely unexplored. Countries at similar levels of economic development have very different outcomes in terms of poverty and human development indicators, and they have very different social policy approaches that are, at least partly, responsible for these different outcomes. There is a great deal of path dependence in social policy approaches, but they are not unchanging, and learning occurs, through experience and through international exchange. Comparison of social policy “regimes” and their relevance for enhancing well-being, as heuristic device, can contribute to international academic and policy learning.

    Third, this book is written at a time when the impacts of a new phase of globalization—where emerging economies like China and India are reversing earlier globalization trends, and are (re)positioning themselves as major economic power houses—are only starting to become visible in Asia. The role of social policy is rapidly changing in the context of the more successful economies, partly as a Polanyian reaction to the more negative consequences of past growth patterns, partly because of the perceived complementary role of social policy in economic growth, and partly because of on-going projects of nation-state building—perhaps particularly a concern in the large countries with a federal administration. The impact of the 2008–09 financial crisis which ended a short decade of stability and growth is as yet unclear, though there is no doubt that the crisis that started in the United States (US) with the bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers, once again, highlighted the extent of global interconnectedness, but also with a strong commitment—unlike after the 1929 crisis, for example—to ensure global policy coordination and avoid protectionism. On top of these challenges, climate change is likely to have an enormous impact, often in the countries which have little capacity to deal with even “normal” development problems (and with the least responsibility for causing it), and for India and China because of their global roles, as the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009 demonstrated. While this book does not discuss the impact of climate change, the challenges and additional strains caused by increased droughts and flooding, and falling agricultural productivity, provide additional reasons to consider the cross-sectoral capacity for policy making.

    This book draws on different academic disciplines, and takes sides in theoretical debates, particularly around the separation of economic from social policy analysis. The project also implies a call for development agencies to come out of its silos of sectoral polices, and for social development to have a stronger focus on policy reform, including because social policy can be as regressive as other forms of public policies. Finally, the book emphasizes improved understanding of the deeply political nature of social policy and development policies more broadly. This makes it a hugely challenging project, which is by no means finished, but I hope this book will make a small contribution to this important debate, at a time when it is clear that current social policy responses are insufficient to deal with new realities.

    Acknowledgements

    The motivation to develop my earlier work in an Asian context came from what to me still appears as rather odd travels across the world, and my intellectual debts—and I hope friendships—are firmly grounded in those paths. After a period of leave in which I wrote Reclaiming Social Policy, in good civil service tradition I was sent to a place I probably knew least about, China. The process of learning during my short period of two to three years has been an amazing experience, which will continue for years to come. In the DFID office in Beijing, I learnt to re-evaluate what I knew about the nature of international development, appreciate why many Chinese think the rest of the world does not understand China, including why many senior officials did not manage to smile during Beijing Olympics events (on this I still think they got it wrong, and feel I have millions of Chinese on my side), and of course, most importantly, they taught me much about a country whose diversity and language make even the hardest working scholar a beginner for many years. So, thank you, in particular, Qiao Jianrong, Sun Xuebing, Hao Aimin, Liu Yang, Martin Taylor, John Warburton, Holger Grundel, and Elizabeth Wilson within DFID, and Zhang Xiulan, Li Xiaoyun, Wang Xiaoyi, Li Shi, Sarah Cook, Jennifer Holdaway, and many colleagues and friends at the International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC) and the State Council Leading Group Office for Poverty Alleviation and Development (LGOP) offices.

    Other people in DFID who gave encouragement for my continued explorations and supported the extra-curricular activities as much as they could include Ellen Wratten, Jillian Popkins, and Charlotte Heath. Gerard Howe, Bridget Dillon, Pat Holden, Paul Healey, and Judy Walker have all motivated me to continue my explorations of social policy issues. I have benefited greatly from the collaboration, earlier on, with colleagues in and outside the DFID India office, particularly Dennis Pain, Shalini Bahuguna, Gita Sabharwal, Aruna Bagchee, Sarojini Thakur, Shan Mitra, Amaresh Dubey, Harsh Mander, and S.K. Thorat.

    The social policy research community has provided constant inspiration for my work over the years. Bob Deacon, Ian Gough, and Armando Barrientos have always been a great source of inspiration as well as encouragement, and I draw liberally on their work. The team at UNRISD has been very important for my motivation to write on social policy, particularly Thandika Mkandawire, Huck-ju Kwon, and Katja Hujo. It has been a great pleasure and privilege to be working with Anis Dani, who developed the social policy framework to strengthen commitment within the World Bank to the 1995 Copenhagen Summit commitments. Colleagues at my new academic home, the Institute of Social Studies, particularly Ashwani Saith and Mahmood Messkoub, have provided inspiration to revisit the debates on universalization, and my students continue to motivate me to better explain the importance of social policy analysis.

    At SAGE Publications, I would like to thank Sugata Ghosh and Elina Majumdar for the encouragement to write this book, and their patience and support. I have also greatly benefited from the thoughtful comments of an anonymous referee.

    Finally, as always, my family deserves most credit, for putting up with yet another writing project. My children are starting to understand that their Dad's name on a book comes after many hours of the time they rightly think is theirs. Paramjit has been my main source of support, and constant reminder that the world is much bigger than my explorations in “development” suggest.

  • Annexure: Selected Data on Well-Being and Government Spending

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    About the Author

    Arjan de Haan is Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, The Hague, where he is the Convenor of the MA specialization in Population, Poverty and Social Development. Before joining the ISS in 2009 he worked for the UK Department for International Development (DFID), including three years in India and most recently three years in China. His publications include Reclaiming Social Policy (2007), How the Aid Industry Works (2009), and edited volumes with Ben Rogaly on Labour Mobility and Rural Society (2002) and with Xiaobo Zhang and Shenggen Fan on Narratives of Chinese Economic Reforms (2010).


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