Kazakhstan’s Social Policy Response to Covid-19: Developmentalism and Productive Welfare

This report reviews Kazakhstan’s initial social policy response to the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting three points. First, there was obvious continuity from the pre-pandemic days in the government’s policy response as it tried to guide the country through the pandemic and prepare the economy for a quick recovery in a post-pandemic world. In particular, the government firmly adhered to the principles of developmentalism, pursuing an active role in the economy, supporting the domestic private sector, promoting employment and using available resources for large infrastructure projects. Second, even during a pandemic, the Kazakhstani government remained fully committed to the idea of productive welfare, offering workers and families affected by the crisis only short-term relief measures and encouraging the poor to be entrepreneurial and not depend on government aid. Third, reminiscent of its earlier strategy to launch important reforms in times of crisis, the Kazakhstani government used the momentum to announce the onset of another cycle of economic, social and education reforms. It remains to be seen whether the announced reforms will help diversify the economy, promote sustainable economic growth and strengthen the country’s education and welfare systems.