The politics of social protection in a competitive African democracy: Explaining social protection policy reform in Ghana (2000-2014)
Working Paper Number:
The Kufuor (New Patriotic Party) administration of 2000-2008 implemented substantial reforms of the contributory social insurance system (including the introduction of a national health insurance scheme and a new ‘three tier’ pensions system), and introduced a range of social assistance schemes targeted at the ‘extreme poor’. This paper analyses the factors that drove policy reform and the broad cross-party consensus that emerged despite highly competitive elections. Electoral dynamics played a significant role, and this is reflected in the political ‘messaging’ and ‘branding’ of parties and candidates during election campaigns, although there is little evidence of the political salience of social protection. Other important factors include a complex set of ‘agendas’ from actors including domestic bureaucrats, international agencies and donors, as well as politicians. These interacted in complex ways with elite alignments that have favoured or worked against pro-poor policy reform at various stages. The paper draws on studies of election campaigns and political parties, electoral dynamics, the ‘political settlement’ in Ghana and public opinion data.