The Quest for Universal Social Policy

This project explores how to build social policies that cover the whole population with similar generous entitlements. We show that promoting universalism may be easier if countries combine different instruments, including social insurance and social assistance, than if they only try to build tax-funded, citizenship based programs. The project, which will result in a manuscript published by Cambridge University Press in 2016, combines a comparative analysis of the cases of Costa Rica, Mauritius, South Korea and Uruguay and a detailed historical account of the Costa Rican experience to explain how universalism can be achieved. The manuscript highlights the role of policy architectures— the combination of instruments that define who has access to what specific benefits, when and how —in promoting more or less universalism. We find that democracy and progressive leadership are preconditions for the promotion of the ideal policy architectures, while active state actors and adequate international ideas are the direct drivers. Papers on the subject can be found here and here and a policy brief here. We are currently exploring the implications for other Latin American countries. PI: Juliana Martínez Franzoni (University of Costa Rica) and Diego Sánchez-Ancochea.