HEREDIA Mariana Laura
congresos y reuniones científicas
The digitization of social assistance during the Covid 19 pandemic in Argentina. Public platforms facing the formal and informal sector
Río de Janeiro
Conferencia; SASE Annual Conference; 2023
Institución organizadora:
Society for the Advance of Socioeconomics (SASE)
Digital platforms are changing the relationship of consumers and citizens with large organizations. Under the imperatives of isolation and social distancing imposed by the Covid 19 pandemic, governments were forced to engage remotely with households and businesses when helping the most vulnerable. The Argentine State resorted to state registries and platforms for aid to be requested and managed.As in other nations of the global South, the effectiveness of these devises cannot be taken for granted and was put to the test during the crisis. On the one hand, the Argentine state has partial or outdated information on many companies and workers who avoid declaring or under-declare their headcount, turnover levels, or income. On the other hand, accounting and computer skills are unevenly distributed among the population, causing some to be unfairly excluded while others take advantage of the assistance offered.The Argentine State implemented two massive income transfers during 2020: the Emergency Family Income (IFE) aimed at the unemployed, undeclared, or precarious workers, which reached 9 million people (one fifth of the country's total population), and the Work and Production Assistance (ATP) aimed at companies and registered workers, which assisted 2.5 million wage earners and almost half a million companies.To what extent did the digitization of assistance expand its capacity for bureaucratic intervention, reproduce its limits or introduce new challenges? How did the different levels of formalization affect the implementation of public assistance? To answer these questions, this paper is based on an examination of regulations, implementation processes and in-depth interviews with officials and beneficiaries in different regions of the country. The comparison between access to formal and informal sector assistance is interesting to analyze the opportunities and risks of the digitalization of state intervention. In both cases, the mediation of public registries and platforms ensured speed and broad coverage (demographic and territorial) of state aid. In both cases, it was necessary for (potential) beneficiaries to resort to third parties to facilitate the registration and claiming process. Despite the existence of different degrees of formalization, the State showed more capacity to segment and monitor the registered sector than the unregistered, so that the ATP achieved greater targeting than the IFE. In addition, the subsequent cross-checking of information allowed it to correct some deviations and precise the targeting of public funds. Although it was not foreseen in the regulations, IFE and ATP coexisted in many domestic and productive units; the State intervened based on what it could visualize, not on the actual composition and evolution of each sector. Despite the progress made in digitization, the limits on public records condition the capacity of the State and its platforms to know and access the most vulnerable members of society in a fairer and more effective manner.