Authoritarian welfare and resilience: politics of child benefits in Russia

Recent literature on authoritarian stability and legitimation has highlighted the role of propaganda and information control, national identity politics, participation technologies and other communication strategies autocrats use to shape public opinion. The authoritarian tool kit is, incomplete if we do not account for governance-related measures. Focusing on authoritarian social policy and contributing to the literature on the authoritarian welfare state, this study measures the political effects of unconditional and conditional cash transfers, specifically focusing on child subsidies, that the Russian government has increasingly integrated into its policy tools. Social policy and child support earn the government political dividends in terms of shoring up public support and have acquired added significance over the last few years. It is part of the current social pact that enables authoritarian resilience during Russia’s war against Ukraine and that is made possible by the actions at the federal, regional, and municipal levels of government.