Poverty alleviation policies in Argentina in the post-2001 period: A case study

  • Myriam Gomez Mendez

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis presents an analysis of Argentine social-policy interventions targeting poverty alleviation in the post-2001 period, concentrating upon the critical processes and forces that have shaped them. The core argument, which is examined via a case study, is that the historical patterns within institutional and political decisions in Argentina (i.e. policy legacies) have had an impact upon more recent developments in social policy. A policy-centred approach is established through historical analysis, in which the characteristics of Argentine politics, as well as the configuration of actors and causes that have influenced social policy, are explored. In particular, social-protection and poverty-alleviation policies are analysed. Using this methodology, the thesis examines patterns within Argentine political economy and welfare, and articulates how various forces pushed the country towards a crisis point. Furthermore, the ways in which new policies have responded to the developing crisis are scrutinised. Here, institutional weakness (in which executives have had excessive latitude to shape policies) is identified as a key issue that has influenced the development of Argentina's political economy and social protection system. Clientelism, populism and insurrection are also established as important processes surrounding the origins and nature of social policy, as well as the recognition of poverty as a political issue. On this subject, this thesis provides a new account of social-policy development in Argentina by contributing to our understanding of the processes that define, firstly, the structure of the political system and, secondly, power relations in the country. It also broadens knowledge of the background and historical events that have influenced changes to social policy, as well as assessing the impact that these factors have had on contemporary social policy interventions - particularly in terms of poverty alleviation. The thesis concludes that the 2001 crisis led to an economic and political backlash and thus constituted a critical juncture that allowed for the return of (leftist) clientelist practices, which became manifest during President Duhalde's term in office. In particular, the implementation of the Plan Jefes y Jefas de Hogar Desocupados (a key poverty-alleviation programme that offered income support to those outside the formal labour market) by presidential decree altered the exclusionary pattern of the history of Argentine social protection. It also reinforced the President's role as the main policy-maker and veto-player in the country. This policy, which was established specifically to address a state of emergency, remained in place after economic recovery started and, indeed, the expansion of social protection continued, with the Seguro de CapacitaciĆ³n y Empleo and the Plan de InclusiĆ³n Previsional being adopted soon after, also by presidential decree. Such moves indicate that, as this thesis contends, once incremental adjustments to policies are introduced, they affect future policy decisions; here, a different, inclusionary path was carved, which led to the continued expansion of social protection in Argentina
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorStuart Shields (Supervisor) & Armando Barrientos (Supervisor)

Cite this