The Politics of Social Security in Brazil

The Politics of Social Security in Brazil

The Politics of Social Security in Brazil

The Politics of Social Security in Brazil

Excerpt

A CRUCIAL PHENOMENON of the twentieth century has been the appearance and development of the welfare state. Most countries have adopted "social programs" designed to protect at least some of their citizens from the vicissitudes of modern life brought about by. the social dislocations inherent in economic development and modernization. Although these programs vary widely, all Latin American countries have adopted such social programs. Brazil in particular has one of the most elaborate systems of social protection in Latin America, which presently extends to almost the entire rural population (more than 43 million) and to over 78 percent of the urban population (more than 45 million).

Despite the obvious importance of social protection programs in shaping the substance of modern economic and political life, they have rarely been analyzed from a specifically political perspective. This is especially true of Latin American programs in general and Brazil's in particular. Although the body of literature dealing with social policy in the region is voluminous, most of the studies concern juridical and technical dimensions of social protection programs. Few concern the political contexts in which the policies were developed. This is unfortunate because a number of Latin American governments, including Brazil's, were in the forefront of social policy development during the early decades of this century. And in the late 1920s and 1930s most Latin American countries adopted constitutions or amendments to constitutions that formally committed them to becoming "social service states" if not welfare states. The evolution of social policy, therefore, has been an integral part of the political development of most of the region during this century.

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