05/02/20 – GTD Colloquium: The political economy of externally financing social policy in developing countries

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Date(s) - 05/02/20
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Grote Gracht 80-82, Spiegelzaal (Soiron Building) Maastricht


On Wednesday 5 February, a GTD Colloquium by Dr. Andrew M. Fischer of the Institute of Social Studies (Erasmus University Rotterdam) will take place in the Spiegelzaal, Grote Gracht 80-82 (Soiron Building).


The topic is: The political economy of externally financing social policy in developing countries.



In this lecture, Andrew Fischer will present some of the main findings that have come out of an ERC-funded five-year research project (Aiding Social Protection). The project examines official financing in support of social protection programmes in developing countries, mainly focusing on cash transfer (CT) programmes, in part because these dominate such support. The issues are two-fold. The first is monetary and financial, concerning the precise mechanisms by which external funding is actually channelled into social expenditures. The second focuses on how such external influences – financial as well as non-financial – play into the political economy of social policy in recipient countries, as a key realm of distributive and redistributive struggles within these countries, and in relation to what Fischer and his colleagues observe to be a strong uniformity in the broad design of CT programmes across developing countries, despite differences in precise patterns of uptake and implementation. These two concerns contrast with most of the scholarship on the politics of social protection, which takes external financing as non-problematic and mostly focuses on domestic matrices of elites to understand variations in the uptake and implementation of cash transfers within and across countries. Bringing together these two strands of research allows for a serious rethink of many of the accepted premises in the political economy of aid and related literatures, in particular highlighting the often-contradictory tensions that recipient governments must deal with in order to preserve policy space in the face of various international development agendas and aid modalities. They also help to re-examine our understanding about causality and motivations regarding the adoption and expansion of CT programmes, and the politics around recipient government ‘ownership’ of such programmes.


About Dr Andrew M. Fischer

Andrew Martin Fischer is Associate Professor of Social Policy and Development Studies at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, part of Erasmus University Rotterdam. He is also the Scientific Director of CERES, The Dutch Research School for International Development; founding editor of the book series of the UK Development Studies Association published by Oxford University Press, entitled Critical Frontiers of International Development Studies; and editor at the journal Development and Change. His latest book, Poverty as Ideology (Zed, 2018), was awarded the International Studies in Poverty Prize by the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP) and Zed Books and, as part of the award, is now fully open access (http://bora.uib.no/handle/1956/20614). He earned his PhD from the London School of Economics (LSE) and has been involved in development studies for over 30 years, including time spent living and working in Central America, India, Nepal and Western China. Fischer’s current research is focused on the role of redistribution in development at local, regional and global scales and its interaction with finance and production. Since 2015, he has been leading a European Research Council Starting Grant on the political economy of externally financing social policy in developing countries