The Haller Distinguished Lecture 2011

Professor Gay Seidman of the Department of Sociology at UW-Madison presented the annual Archibald Haller Lecture on May 6th, 2011. Speaking on the topic “What Can We Learn from Brazil’s Pro-Poor Strategies?” Seidman presented data tracking Brazil’s remarkable recent progress in decreasing income inequality. She explored the reasons for this success, which is frequently attributed to “conditional income transfers” that pay the poor for constructive actions like keeping their children in school. While Seidman acknowledged the importance of these programs, she also pointed to the less-heralded significance of increases in the minimum wage, labor law enforcement and universal pensions. Taken together these programs significantly increase the income that poor households have available for investments in education, health, housing improvements as well as things like cell phones and computers. While concentrating on actions taken by recent Worker’s Party administrations, Seidman also looked at the groundwork laid by the previous Cardoso administration (for example in improved tax collection which make increased social expenditures possible). Seidman spoke to a packed conference room and an audience eager to hear an all-too-rare social policy success story. Seidman’s excellent talk was followed by an informal lunch for all who attended. Happily Professor Emeritus Arch Haller was able to attend the talk and lunch.

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