Global Development Institute Blog

Global Development Institute Blog

We’re the Global Development Institute at The University of Manchester: where critical thinking meets social justice.

Beyond ‘welfare state’ idealism: Is it time for a general theory of social protection?

Beyond ‘welfare state’ idealism: Is it time for a general theory of social protection?

By Armando Barrientos, Professor Emeritus of Poverty and Social Justice at the Global Development Institute

Discussions surrounding how Latin American states can support less advantaged citizens have often looked to European ‘welfare states’ as exemplary models for reducing inequality and tackling poverty. Chile’s young President Gabriel Boric, for example, ran an election campaign built on promises to dismantle neoliberalism through increased public spending and ‘welfare state’ provisions, among other things.

In some ways, it’s easy to see why the ‘welfare state’ model is appealing. Nordic countries, for example, are often praised for their universalist approach, providing a strong financial safety net for citizens, as well as promoting equal opportunities through well-funded public services.

But what if ‘welfare states’ represent the exception to the rule when it comes to supporting less advantaged people throughout the world? What if the uneven nature of capitalist development means Latin American states cannot usefully implement some of Europe’s tried-and-tested welfare mechanisms? This article explores how theorists of social protection can better understand and address such a problem.

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We all have to become better economists

We all have to become better economists

International Conference on Land Grabbing 2024, Bogotá, Colombia

by Caroline Cornier
Global Development Institute, University of Manchester

From the 19th to the 21st of March 2024, Colombia’s prestigious Los Andes University in Bogotá, Colombia hosted the International Conference on Land Grabbing. The country’s first leftist, land reform-pushing government was happy to be the host.

The Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI) first convened this conference in 2011, against the background of the financial crisis’ repercussions in the food, land and energy sectors. LDPI is supported collectively by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Cornell University, City University of New York, the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape and the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. More than 10 years later, at a time when the world faces enhanced social, political and environmental crises, the conference, co-organised by the Journal of Peasant Studies, World Development, Antipode, Globalizations, and Análisis Político, aimed to investigate new evolutions within land grabbing.

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What can GDI researchers tell us about poverty dynamics in Bangladesh? 

What can GDI researchers tell us about poverty dynamics in Bangladesh? 

Written by Skyla Baily 

Bangladesh frequently garners attention as an example of development success, with extensive literature exploring its poverty dynamics and underlying drivers. In just over half a century since gaining independence, the nation has managed to more than halve its poverty rate and sustain almost consistent year-on-year growth. Building on its success, the country is now increasing investment in energy, connectivity, and transport whilst prioritising climate change action as it endeavours to continue its growth sustainably.

But what impact have recent world events had on this growth, and what does it look like for people at a household level?

In recent weeks, multiple GDI researchers have shared their work on Bangladesh’s poverty dynamics. In this blog, we take a look at some of the key ideas put forward by PhD researcher Isaac López-Moreno Flores and Prof David Fielding and Dr Upasak Das, respectively.

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What is it like to study Global Development at undergraduate level?

What is it like to study Global Development at undergraduate level?

The start of the academic year 2023/24 marked an exciting milestone for the Global Development Institute, as we welcomed the first cohort of undergraduates enrolled in our brand-new BSc in Global Development course. Designed to equip students with the tools to promote a socially just world, the course has attracted a wide array of young people looking to pursue rewarding careers.

So, how are the new undergraduates getting on? First-year Chi-Chi Ojigbani has been blogging about her experiences over the past few months, offering valuable insights into the life of a Development Studies student. We’ve selected a few highlights below…

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One World Together launches new Community Space

One World Together launches new Community Space

One World Together – a solidarity-based movement aiming to transform the development funding landscape – launched its new Community Space last Friday, 15th March. The event shone a light on the difference One World Together is making to its brilliant partner organisations, as well as how the Community Space will support future collaborations and community-building projects.

Founded by Chibwe Masabo Henry and GDI’s Niki Banks, One World Together emerged out of frustration with charitable funding models contingent on donor interests and priorities. As the pair explained in a speech opening last week’s event, charities spend staggering sums of money on fundraising and operational costs, reducing the sums available to address global challenges.

Thanks to a growing community of Global Citizens, One World Together is working to tackle inefficiencies and inequities within the sector. It benefits from a lean operational model, channelling money from its Solidarity Fund directly to local communities and organisations. And the positive outcomes are clear. As part of the launch event, we heard from the movement’s fantastic partner organisations, each of which provided insights into the difference they’re making across different parts of the world, including…

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New open access book – Pathways to Development: From Politics to Power

New open access book – Pathways to Development: From Politics to Power

GDI Professors Sam Hickey and Kunal Sen recently published Pathways to Development: From Politics to Power (OUP) – an open access book that provides a comprehensive framework for understanding the politics of development. The book represents a summary of a decade’s worth of research undertaken by the Effective States and Inclusive Development research centre (ESID) – a project exploring how politics shapes development across settings and sectors – as well as a related project on integrating ‘pockets of effectiveness’ in developing countries.

Pathways to Development asks why some countries experience rapid economic growth while struggling to deliver services, why some countries manage to govern natural resources effectively while failing to protect the rights of vulnerable citizens, and why some countries manage to avoid the so-called ‘natural resource curse’ while others do not.

The following extract situates Pathways to Development within broader trends surrounding the incorporation of politics into development debates, tracking the effects of this political turn on scholarship, policy, and practice. Read it for an overview of the book’s main aims, and don’t forget to read the whole thing open access here.

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Twin crises in Bangladesh could have long-term consequences for poverty reduction

Twin crises in Bangladesh could have long-term consequences for poverty reduction

Over the last 12 months, researchers at GDI and the South Asian Network for Economic Modelling (SANEM) have been exploring some of the effects of the “twin crises” in Bangladesh: the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent rise in the cost of living. This project is part of the Covid-19 Learning, Evidence and Research Programme in Bangladesh, which is managed by the IDS and funded by the FCDO.

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