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Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(1), 134-147;

Social Policies in Contemporary Latin America: Families and Poverty in the Social Protection Systems

Escuela de Trabajo Social, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Avenida Valparaíso s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Córdoba 5000, Argentina
Academic Editors: Nathan Hughes and Carolina Munoz-Guzman
Received: 11 December 2014 / Accepted: 29 January 2015 / Published: 9 February 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Understanding and Supporting 'Families with Complex Needs')
PDF [227 KB, uploaded 9 February 2015]


This article examines the impact of social policies on the living conditions of poor families—particularly women—in Latin America from the late 1980s to the present. It identifies three distinct trends of familialism in the region’s social protection systems. The first social policy trend is characterized by poverty alleviation policies addressing the family in an “elliptical” way, taking for granted the idea of a nuclear family. The distinguishing trait of the second trend is the appearance of social programs aimed at families and stressing the role of women as chief caregivers and administrators. And finally, the third policy trend is defined by an expansion of more universal social programs targeting children and the elderly. Despite the recent emergence of programs with gender specific goals, social policies continue to put a great burden on female workers. For example, many subsidies to poor families deliver money directly to women, improving their intra-family bargaining power, but this translates also into an increase of responsibilities and the ensuing overload of work. Consequently, social policies in Latin America need to aim at encouraging a more egalitarian distribution of housework and care work within the family, especially given how well-established androcentrism is in the region. View Full-Text
Keywords: social policies; social protection; family; familialism; poverty; women social policies; social protection; family; familialism; poverty; women
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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González, C. Social Policies in Contemporary Latin America: Families and Poverty in the Social Protection Systems. Soc. Sci. 2015, 4, 134-147.

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