Social welfare grey zones: how and why subnational actors provide when nations do not?

Erica Dobbs, Peggy Levitt, Sonia Parella, Alisa Petroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

7 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. In an era where even citizenship is not a guarantee of access to the welfare state, can non-citizens gain access to social protection? Using health care as a lens, and the United States and Spain as cases, we find that non-citizens do have access to social protection via what we call ‘grey zones’, namely points of disagreement between national and local governments that create opportunities for non-citizens. Grey zones are possible due to processes that are often seen as disenfranchising: the denationalisation of policy and the disaggregation of citizenship. In addition, they tend to open up regardless of the nature or intent of national reforms. That said, we find significant variation in the extent to which subnational governments take advantage of them. While differences are somewhat explained by partisanship, significant outliers warrant further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1595-1612
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2019


  • health care
  • Immigration
  • Spain
  • state and local government
  • United States


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