Dissertation Abstracts

Social policy and global disparities. An analysis of cash transfers measures deployed in MERCOSUR and EU countries during COVID-19 crisis (2020-2022)

Author: Joaquín Baliña, joaquin.balinia@gmail.com
Department: IDICSO
University: Universidad del Salvador & Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Argentina
Supervisor: Dr. Alejandro Pelfini
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Social Policy , Social Protection , Global Studies , Inequalities
Areas of Research: Local-Global Relations , Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy , Economy and Society


Social policy has become a much relevant topic during the last years, especially in relation to global crises. In these contexts, social policy provides a safety net to those affected by crises through the combination of social protection and security systems. Furthermore, social protection coverage has become increasingly extended throughout the world by expanding direct cash transfer measures to most vulnerable sectors of society, especially after the financial 2008 crisis and the most recent COVID-19 pandemic. This has been the case of several regions, such as Latin America, South Asia, and part of Europe and Africa, where these policies have been heavily deployed to tackle the consequences of these global crises. However, a gap rises between the global characteristics of crises and the national dimension of these measures. And within this gap, further inequalities and imbalances rise as a main problem between and within regions, in terms of capabilities and socioeconomic conditions. While rich countries are characterized by better social and economic conditions and count on broader public resources to deploy social protection measures, poor countries usually face worst social and economic conditions and on top of that have fewer resources to face global crises. This gap has been very much explored, for example, by comparing the international insertion between peripherical and central countries. However, these imbalances occur not only between regions, but also within them. As such, this tension in social policy should be analyzed while considering this double dynamic. Therefore, the research project focuses on the role of cash transfers deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic, by analyzing and comparing a selected group of direct cash transfer measures implemented in Argentina, Paraguay, Germany and Portugal between 2020 and 2022. The selection of countries was made based on Human Development levels and welfare types of regimes. By conducting statistical research of socioeconomic conditions based on official data provided by the world Bank and the World Inequality Database on the one hand, and policy analysis of cash transfers provided by official institutions on the other, the research is expected to help characterize and compare the socioeconomic conditions and cash transfer measures between and within the regional blocks of the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) and the European Union (EU). While the first method is used to establish a proper diagnosis of socio-economic inequalities based on 4 key dimensions (employment, income distribution, poverty, and national economy), the second is used to characterize and compare the cash transfer measures implemented in terms of 3 key aspects (recipients and access conditions, population and period coverage, and amount and public spending). By doing so, it is expected to contribute to a better understanding of cash transfers and social protection as social policy tools to provide safety during crises periods, and how regional inequalities shape them.