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Social Policy Expansion in Latin America
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    Social Policy Expansion in Latin America
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Book description

Throughout the twentieth century, much of the population in Latin America lacked access to social protection. Since the 1990s, however, social policy for millions of outsiders - rural, informal, and unemployed workers and dependents - has been expanded dramatically. Social Policy Expansion in Latin America shows that the critical factors driving expansion are electoral competition for the vote of outsiders and social mobilization for policy change. The balance of partisan power and the involvement of social movements in policy design explain cross-national variation in policy models, in terms of benefit levels, coverage, and civil society participation in implementation. The book draws on in-depth case studies of policy making in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico over several administrations and across three policy areas: health care, pensions, and income support. Secondary case studies illustrate how the theory applies to other developing countries.


'The extension of social welfare programs to previously excluded groups has been one of the most important public policy changes in Latin America in recent decades. Candelaria Garay has written a path-breaking book that explains how that change occurred and why policy coverage continues to vary from one country to another. Most important, she explains how the content and reach of social policies are influenced by democratic competition and social mobilization from below. This is an original and deeply insightful book that makes a major contribution to the study of social policy in the developing world.'

Kenneth Roberts - Cornell University

'This path-breaking book is a must-read that will reshape the discussion of Latin American politics and social policy more generally. It illuminates a dramatic process of inclusion of outsiders in the Latin American informal sector through non-contributory policies and distinct processes of political incorporation in the administration of these new policy tools during the new millennium. Garay shows how these social policies contributed to reshaping a political arena, previously defined by the entrance of formal workers into the political system during the postwar era. Moreover, the combined focus on redistribution and control in the analysis of non-contributory policies targeted to outsiders will reshape the debates of the literature on social policy and the transformations of welfare regimes in diverse regions of the world.'

Maria Victoria Murillo - Columbia University

'This book examines the most important social policy development in Latin America in decades: the extension of welfare states to cover 'outsiders,' or informal sector and rural workers who constitute a majority of most Latin American workforces, and yet they have historically been denied access to health care, pensions, and other basic social benefits in most of the region. Now they are being included and Garay tells us why and how this dramatic change occurred. Theoretically rich and empirically rigorous, Social Policy Expansion in Latin America explains why social policy expanded more dramatically in some Latin America countries than in others. Garay’s book makes a major contribution to research on comparative social policy in Latin America. It will be widely read, assigned and cited.'

Steven Levitsky - Harvard University

'Candelaria Garay’s masterful book stands out in the expanding scholarship on welfare states in Latin America for its empirical depth, comparative breadth and theoretical ambition. The novel argument is that democracy works to expand welfare policies, even in right wing governments, but in particular ways that depend on the dynamics of electoral contention and mobilization of social movements. This is a model for comparative research.'

Ben Ross Schneider - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

'Social Policy Expansion is a remarkable book. Garay examines ​the dramatic extension of welfare provision to the informal sector - a compelling topic for Latin America​ and far beyond. Her unique, hard-won data reveals striking contrasts among national trajectories, yielding a novel typology of policy regimes.​ ​​This is a major contribution to comparative social science.'

David Collier - Robson Professor, University of California, Berkeley

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