Drawing on recent work and data on social protection in the developing world, this essay evaluates the current state of the art and suggests several important new lines of research. We first examine the historical origin and evolution of social protection systems in developing countries, arguing that insufficient attention has been paid to the authoritarian roots of developing nations' social policy. As a preliminary effort to remedy this shortcoming in the literature, we offer a political logic for the observed variation in the character of institutions of social policy established by nondemocratic regimes. Next, we explore recent research examining linkages between models of economic development and welfare regimes in developing countries. Finally, we turn to the study of the political determinants of the social policy reforms that occurred in the final decades of the twentieth century, arguing that variation in reform across policy areas has been more complex than is generally appreciated in the literature. To explain this variation, we develop a theory that identifies the political coalitions supporting different policy outcomes.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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