Grupos de Investigación

The effect of cash transfers on social solidarity: A systematic review

  • Martín Leites (Universidad de la República, Uruguay)
  • Lucía Ramirez (Universidad de la República, Uruguay)
  • Andrés Rius (Universidad de la República, Uruguay)
  • Gonzalo Salas (Universidad de la República, Uruguay)
  • Andrea Vigorito (Universidad de la República, Uruguay)
The aim of this review is to assess whether direct transfers provided to households or individuals damage or foster social solidarity or some of its manifestations. If social transfers erode social ties and increase social stigma, they might undermine solidarity and social cohesion.
The relevance of promoting social cohesion as a constitutive aspect of well-being and, hence as key dimension of the development process has been advocated not only by academics such as Sen (1999) but also by multilateral actors such as, for example, World Bank, European Union, OECD,  ECLAC or Canadian Heritage.
In developed countries, the discussion on the relation between direct transfers and solidarity is centered in whether the welfare state creates incentives for solidarity or replaces/destroys individual initiatives and social bonds. Two different views on this point can be seen in Cohen and Arato (2000) and Kumlin and Rothstein (2009).In the context of developing countries, direct transfer programs are an expanding intervention, following the positive evaluations of Progresa-Oportunidades in Mexico. Many cash transfer programs have in their explicit purposes the aim of contributing to increase social ties. Sometimes these interventions have specific designs or components crafted to foster these outcomes. We are interested in the effects of these components and in the unintended effects of cash and in kind direct transfers.
This review aims to investigate to what extent these interventions foster interpersonal trust, social bonds, esteem for different life styles and other forms of social solidarity, or they are rather strengthening human capital accumulation but undermining other collective assets.

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