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Welfare and Party Politics in Latin America


  • 9 b/w illus. 19 tables
  • Page extent: 232 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.51 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 361.8
  • Dewey version: 23
  • LC Classification: HN110.5.A8 P7295 2013
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Latin America--Social conditions--21st century
    • Latin America--Social policy--21st century
    • Political parties--Latin America--History--21st century
    • Latin America--Politics and government--21st century

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9781107030220)

Systems of social protection can provide crucial assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society, but not all systems are created equally. In Latin America, social policies have historically exhibited large gaps in coverage and high levels of inequality in benefit size. Since the late 1990s, countries in this region have begun to grapple with these challenges, enacting a series of reforms to healthcare, social assistance and education policy. While some of these initiatives have moved in a universal direction, others have maintained existing segmentation or moved in a regressive direction. Welfare and Party Politics in Latin America explores this variation in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela, finding that the design of previous policies, the intensity of electoral competition, and the character of political parties all influence the nature of contemporary social policy reform in Latin America.

• Presents data from over 135 original interviews with former presidents, ministers, senators, deputies and other public figures in Chile and Uruguay • Contributes to the growing literature on Latin America's left turn, presenting a new classification of parties that helps explain the high levels of heterogeneity among the region's left-leaning governments • Provides an analysis of welfare and other social assistance policies in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela


Acknowledgments; Acronyms; 1. From special privilege to social rights: universalism in social policy; 2. Creating universalistic social policy: the role of policy legacies, electoral competition, and party character; 3. Healthcare reform in Chile and Uruguay; 4. Social assistance reform in Chile and Uruguay; 5. Education reform in Chile and Uruguay; 6. Party character in Chile and Uruguay; 7. Slow progress toward universalism: Argentina and Venezuela in comparative perspective; 8. Latin America's left parties and the politics of poverty and inequality; References; List of interviews; Index.


'Why are social policy outcomes so distinct between progressive governments? Jennifer Pribble demonstrates that similar goals to reduce poverty and inequality follow different paths. Her book combines legacies, power resources, and strategies to unpack 'the left', showing the ways, means, and constraints shaping policy reform. This book is a superb contribution to the study of social policy and inequality.' Juliana Martinez Franzoni, University of Costa Rica

'Jennifer Pribble's exhaustively researched and carefully argued study offers a new and compelling explanation for the varying types of social policy reform that Latin American countries have implemented in recent years. Particularly noteworthy is her emphasis on the party-voter linkages that have shaped reform in Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, and Venezuela. Welfare and Party Politics in Latin America will be required reading for anyone interested in social policy in the region or around the world.' Raúl L. Madrid, University of Texas, Austin and author of The Rise of Ethnic Politics in Latin America

'In her comparative analysis of social welfare programs in contemporary Latin America, Jennifer Pribble breaks new ground by developing a clear set of indicators to distinguish different types of welfare policies, based on their degree of universalism. Moreover, she provides a compelling theoretical argument to explain how policy variation in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Venezuela is conditioned by historical policy legacies, electoral competition, and the organizational characteristics of populist and leftist parties. This book is essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand the politics of social welfare and redistribution in highly unequal societies.' Kenneth M. Roberts, Cornell University

'How can developing countries promote universal social policies that reduce poverty and inequality? In this outstanding qualitative study based on more than 130 interviews, Professor Pribble highlights the role of policy legacies and programmatic left-wing parties. By comparing Chile's reforms from above with Uruguay's reforms from below, she successfully explains both the speed and depth of their move toward universalism. This book will launch a new research agenda on the role of political parties in the construction of more equal societies in Latin America and beyond.' Diego Sánchez-Ancochea, University of Oxford

'Pribble explores reforms taken by left-leaning governments in Latin America to determine whether they have produced significant changes in levels of poverty and inequality … She contrasts Chile, with its top-down rule, and Uruguay, with policy changes based on bottom-up coalition building, and examines the advantages and disadvantages of each style…Summing up: recommended. Undergraduate, graduate, and research collections.' S. L. Rozman, Choice

'Pribble's book combines systematic and original theoretical insights with robust empirical evidence. It is a commendable achievement and should become an essential reference point in the complex academic and political debates on policy processes, social inclusion and welfare reform in Latin America.' Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, Journal of Latin America Studies

'In her excellent book, Jennifer Pribble explains why some Latin American states have been more effective than others at reforming social protection in the direction of greater coverage and better quality benefits for all citizens … this book is an outstanding contribution to our knowledge of the pattern of social policy reform in Latin America.' Rossana Catiglioni, Journal of Social Policy

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