Political economy of social protection reforms

Policy diffusion, policy learning and transgovernmental policy networks

The research program on international policy diffusion aims to uncover mechanisms contributing to the spread of policies and to provide empirical evidence that apart from domestic factors international interdependencies matter for national policy change. Thereby, it recognizes the relevance of ‘policy learning’ for the diffusion process. Research conducted in this field considers the governance structures which mediate international policy diffusion in social protection.

Previous related projects include the international research project on “International Policy Learning and Policy Change: Scientific Inputs for the Dialogue on Social Protection with Global Partners” conducted in close cooperation with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The first phase of this research projects assesses the current state of the art in policy diffusion and policy transfer, considering theoretical as well as empirical perspectives. The second phase traces policy diffusion in transgovernmental policy networks in the area of social protection.

Working Paper

Katja Bender, Sonja Keller und Holger Willing (2014) 
"The Role of International Policy Transfer and Diffusion for Policy Change in Social Protection – A Review of the State of the Art." IZNE Social Protection Working Paper 14/1.

Katja Bender, Sonja Keller und Holger Willing (2014)
"Insights into the Role of International Policy Networks for International Policy Transfer and Policy Learning in Social Protection." IZNE Social Protection Working Paper 14/2.


Determinants of social protection reforms

Social protection reforms are a ‘global phenomenon’ and observed in many African, Asian and Latin American countries. However, not surprisingly, the characteristics of reform processes differ across countries both in terms of scope and speed of institutional change. Social protection reforms are often accompanied by strong political controversies and varying degrees of public support among the population.

Apart from conducting cost-effectiveness analyses (CEA) the international research project Breaking the Vicious Circle between Poverty and Ill-Health analyzes factors hindering and facilitating social protection reforms in Ghana and Kenya. It complements traditional CEA by offering insights into the political or institutional constraints of policy interventions and developing a complementary and in-depth perspective on processes of change. The analysis will take into account national level processes, local level processes and their interactions. By applying a process-tracing methodology it aims at identifying the respective action-formation mechanisms, situational mechanisms and transformational mechanisms. Given the still limited theoretical foundation the analysis aims to focus on a theory-building process tracing analysis.

Further research aims to develop appropriate indicators to measure reforms in social protection.