Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow Sara Niedzwiecki's book Uneven Social Policies: The Politics of Subnational Variation in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2018 hardback, 2020 paperback) has received two book awards: the Latin American Political Science Association's Donna Lee Van Cott Book Award from The Political Institutions Section and the International Public Policy Association's IPPA Book Award.

The book studies how social policies can transform the lives of the poor and marginalized, yet inequitable implementation often limits their access. Uneven Social Policies shifts the focus of welfare state analysis away from policy design and toward policy implementation. By examining variation in political motivations, state capacity, and policy legacies, it explains why some policies are implemented more effectively than others, why some deliver votes to incumbent governments while others do not, and why regionally elected executives block the implementation of some but not all national policies. Niedzwiecki explores this variation across provinces and municipalities by combining case studies with statistical analysis of conditional cash transfers and health policies in two decentralized countries, Argentina and Brazil. The analysis draws on original data gathered during 15 months of field research that included more than 230 interviews with politicians and 140 with policy recipients.

Niedzwiecki is an assistant professor of politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she specializes in comparative social policy, subnational politics, and mixed-methods research. Her research agenda focuses on the politics of social policy and on multilevel governance in Latin America. Her project while a Kellogg visiting fellow (2020-21) was titled “Immigrants’ Access to Social Protection in Latin America.”

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