Call for Abstracts: Welfare States, Labour Rights and Basic Income in Latin America

During the past decade, Latin American countries, particularly those in South America, have experienced rapid economic growth, a formalisation of their labour markets and increased minimum wages. In addition, almost all governments implemented targeted social programmes aimed at alleviating poverty and increasing the consumption capacity of the worst off. One of these programmes, Conditional Cash Transfers – CCTs – became the flagship intervention: spanning 21 countries, these transfers benefited more than 132 million people or 21.5% of the regional population, at a cost of only 0.39% of the regional GDP (CEPAL 2015). Both economic growth and social interventions help explain a slight decrease of income inequality, the first ever to occur since data has been available. However, despite these improvements, structural poverty and income inequality continue to be determining features of Latin American society.

This workshop will critically assess three programmes, CCTs, Universal Cash Transfers (UCTs) and Basic Income (BI) in order to discuss:

  • the distinct normative, theoretical and empirical potential of these three initiatives to reduce poverty and promote social justice
  • their different effects on society in general and on the organisation of labour markets in particular.
  • the incentives and socio-political dynamics created by these programmes (e.g. in terms of class coalitions) 

In order to evaluate the role of these social programmes in reducing poverty and inequality, the organisers would like to call for papers focusing on questions such as:

  • What impact have the CCTs had in different Latin American countries and what lessons could be learned?
  • Has the massive application of CCTs and UCTs in certain Latin American countries been able to pave the way to a rights-based universal basic income, and could it be a way forward for other countries in the region?
  • What are the political and social forces that support or oppose social initiatives based on CCTs and basic income for all? How do they operate in different countries and what lessons can be extracted?
  • How can universal basic income be guaranteed in societies characterized by job market segmentation and relatively weak state institutions?

The workshop will pay special attention to Latin America, but empirical and theoretical studies that include cross-regional comparisons are also welcome.