1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development (2000 - 2009)

The Role of Social Policy in Economic Development (Draft)

During the heady days of neoliberal counter-revolution in the 1980s, the World Bank and the IMF prided themselves in not wasting their time on “soft” things like social policy in designing their “structural adjustment programmes”. In the older version of neoliberal orthodoxy that had prevailed until the early 1990s, diverting resources to social policy, which softens the blow of the adjustment on the weaker sections of the society, was regarded as buying short-run palliatives at the cost of long-term productive development, as it can only slow down the necessary “adjustments”. Many people remember how strongly this line of thinking was pursued during the 1980s. This was pursued to the point of producing a call for “adjustment with human face” by those who did not completely reject the need for structural adjustment programmes but were deeply concerned by what they saw as unnecessary human suffering caused by such programmes in their unadulterated forms.

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