This article discusses the evolution of social protection in Latin America and proposes a conceptualisation and contextualisation of new forms of social assistance. It begins by outlining the main features of social protection prior to the ‘lost decade’ of the 1980s and the changes enforced by crises and structural adjustment. It then focuses on the new forms of social assistance emerging in the region, especially conditional and unconditional income transfers and integrated anti-poverty programmes. The article draws out their common features, identifies possible underlying conceptual frameworks, and places their introduction and evolution within the broader context of the new dynamics of poverty and vulnerability in the region.
Journal of Latin American Studies (2009) 41 (1) 1-26 [DOI: 10.1017/S0022216X08005099]