The expansion of non-contributory transfers in Uruguay in recent years

Verónica Amarante and Andrea Vigorito

During the first half of the 20th century, Uruguay was able to establish an institutional system of universal social policies in the areas of education, labour and health which involved the coverage of most of the population. In an unfavourable regional environment, the Uruguayan economy entered in a recession in 1999 that culminated in a severe economic crisis in 2002. The contraction of economic activity translated into high levels of unemployment and a strong decrease in real household income. 

Between the acute economic crisis of 2002 and the encouraging social indicators of 2009, relevant changes occurred in the country’s social protection matrix. The centre-left coalition, Frente Amplio, began its mandate in March 2005, promoting a series of redistributive measures. This occurred in a context of sustained economic growth, which certainly proved to be a decisivefactor in improving social indicators. This article analyses the recent policies directly targeting people living in poverty and, specifically, the cash transfer programmes and their impacts.

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