Latin America and Europe: Old welfare, new social security or what is at stake?



Latin America and the Caribbean region (LAC) have experienced economic and employment growth over the past decade (ILO, 2012), even at a time when many countries in Europe were and are still experiencing the effects of the economic crisis. During this time of economic growth, social protection has increased, even though the region still ranks as one of the most unequal in the world with high levels of discrimination and low levels of protection. By contrast, when social protection and the role of the state is increasing in Latin America and Caribbean countries, in the political discourse the role of the welfare state in Europe is often questioned and considered as unsustainable or even undesirable, and social security and social services are becoming increasingly targeted, segmented, and outsourced. In this context, approaches such as social innovation and social investment, which are currently high on the agenda of the EU and the member states, do not only tackle the architectures of the European welfare states but also challenge the established interlinks between the market, the state and the family as the three ‘sources of wellbeing’ (Esping- Andersen et al., 2002): in this respect, it has been argued that the new EU-social policy approaches even promote a fourth source of wellbeing which has been underestimated so far -the community (Jenson, 2014; Evers/Guillemard, 2012). Nevertheless, the state provision of welfare services and benefits seems under attack – especially in the light of the EU austerity-based response to the crisis (Blyth, 2013).

However, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the community as a source of wellbeing is very well established and of traditionally crucial relevance for many social security regimes, especially due to still high informality of labour and social protection (Barrientos, 2004; Wood, 2004; Shark/Gough, 2010). This crucial role of the community is only one of the specific characteristics which have been identified by scholars looking at Latin America and the Caribbean region, and developing classifications of welfare regimes and social protection that reflect the region’s experience (among others: Filgueira, 1998; Barrientos, 2004; Martinez Franzoni, 2008) by building on the seminal welfare-regime typology by Esping-Andersen (1990). Despite an increasing scholarly attention to welfare and social security in different world regions, there is still a lack of studies which analyse theoretical and empirical insights from these regions against the backdrop of challenges which the current political, economic and social shifts in Europe and all around the world bring to social security research.

By inviting papers which deal with welfare and social security in the LAC region and Europe, this panel is interested in both the individual pathways of welfare and social security as well as in links and relationships between the two world regions. The panel looks at how European trends have influenced and are influencing social cohesion measures, policy architectures, the development of welfare states, social security and ultimately welfare regimes in Latin America and the Caribbean – but also considers the option of vice versa influence from LAC towards Europe. Core questions to be addressed in the panel are: 

  • What are the roles of and relationships between different sources of wellbeing (state, market, family and community) in Latin American and European social security regimes? 

  • What are similarities and differences of welfare and social security patterns in the two world 
regions and what do they tell us about the interlinks between social, employment and economic policies at the macro- and meso level, and what are potential issues at the micro level? 

  • Can we observe a ‘diffusion of ideas’ between the two world regions? Which? Via which channels? 
We welcome theoretical and empirical papers that focus on welfare state and social security/social protection in Europe and the LAC region. We also welcome papers that analyse social cohesion and the attitudes toward social policies. We will prioritise papers that draw links between the Latin America and the Caribbean region and Europe.  

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