Public debates about the relationship between economic strategies, social policies and within them, social protection, date back to at least the nineteenth century.1 These debates have often been fiercely fought. From the watershed 1834 Poor Law in England and Charles Dickens’s workhouses for the indigent poor through the variants of social policy that evolved in continental Europe (Bismarckian versus social democratic approaches to entitlements), and in the US during Roosevelt’s New Deal followed by the Kennedy-Johnson expansion of entitlements, to their reversal during the Reagan years in the US, such debates have covered a wide range of issues in the countries of the North. In the South, while debates around social policy are more recent and unevenly developed in different regions, they have often been equally contested. The intensity and scope of such debates within a country usually depends on its economic situation and its historical evolution, the strategy for growth and development and the conjuncture of its political economy.
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