Welfare States in Developing Countries: Unique or Universal?


Nita Rudra is assistant professor of public and international affairs, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.


Do varieties of welfare capitalism exist in the developing world? This analysis challenges scholars of comparative political economy and international political economy who treat the political economies of less developed countries (LDCs) as more or less identical to one another or, at the other extreme, as nations marked by tremendous diversity. This paper is one of the first attempts to highlight systematic differences among the political economies of the developing world, particularly with respect to their distribution regimes. Using cluster analysis, the results illustrate that welfare efforts in LDCs are either directed towards promoting market development (a productive welfare state), protecting select individuals from the market (a protective welfare state), or both (a dual welfare state). The discovery of distinct patterns of welfare regimes in LDCs presents hitherto unknown implications for the influence of domestic politics and policies in late twentieth-century globalization.