Since the turn of the century, large-scale programmes providing direct transfers to households in poverty have mushroomed in in low- and middle-income countries. By 2010, conservative estimates indicate that around one billion people in low- and middle-income countries lived in households receiving antipoverty transfers. Discussions leading to the Sustainable Development Goals noted their contribution to the reduction of global poverty. The expansion of antipoverty transfer programmes represents domestic policy responses to poverty, democratisation, and globalisation. This is reflected in their diversity of design and objectives. In countries like South Africa or Brazil, antipoverty transfers are part of a renewed social contract focused on social, economic, and political inclusion of disadvantaged groups. What does the growth of social assistance tell us about emerging welfare institutions in the South?