Steven G. Anderson: New Strategies for Social Innovation: Market-Based Approaches for Assisting the Poor. New York: Columbia University Press, 344 pp. $105.00 (hardcover), $31.50 (paperback), $29.79 (Kindle Edition), ISBN-13: 978-0231159227
Different perspectives on which developmental approach is the best to tackle the problems of the poor have been debated, while change agents have been trying to address this issue in various ways. The answer lies in finding solutions to more fundamental questions including: What are some of the best ways to assist the poor in developing countries; which development strategies have better chances of success in a particular context and why; what are the strengths and limitations of these social change approaches; and what is the way forward?
Professor Steven G. Anderson, Director of School of Social Work at Michigan State University, draws upon his four decades of expertise as academician as well as practitioner and attempts to answer these questions in his latest book, New Strategies for Social Innovation: Market-Based Approaches for Assisting the Poor. His book takes the readers through four broad social development approaches that emphasize diverse market-based strategies to improve the life of disadvantaged groups. The book contains seven chapters and is just above three hundred pages in length. The chapters are organized around the approaches described by the author and towards the end an attempt is made to integrate these overarching approaches along with a comparative analysis.
While Latin America is taking in more tax revenue cumulatively than it did twenty years ago, the International Business Times reported in 2012 that the income gap between the wealthy and the poor is still drastically wide, with the richest 20 percent making 20 times more than the poorest 20 percent. So what’s changed in the recent past? What can be done in the future? Public Finance Review recently published a special issue titled Analyzing the Redistributive Impact of Taxes and Transfers in Latin America that looks at various aspects of these ideas and is available to read for free for the next 30 days!
How much redistribution and poverty reduction is being accomplished in Latin America through social spending, subsidies, and taxes? Standard fiscal incidence analyses applied to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay using a comparable methodology yields the following results. Direct taxes and cash transfers reduce inequality and poverty by nontrivial amounts in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay but less so in Bolivia, Mexico, and Peru. While direct taxes are progressive, the redistributive impact is small because direct taxes as a share of GDP are generally low. Cash transfers are quite progressive in absolute terms, except in Bolivia where programs are not targeted to the poor. In Bolivia and Brazil, indirect taxes more than offset the poverty-reducing impact of cash transfers. When one includes the in-kind transfers in education and health, valued at government costs, they reduce inequality in all countries by considerably more than cash transfers, reflecting their relative size.