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Understanding the Expansion of Latin America's New Social Welfare Regimes

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Latin American countries have been described as truncated welfare states. However, the recent expansion of innovative social welfare programs have brought millions of excluded citizens access to social benefits. This review article examines a new body of scholarship that studies how democratic political competition has created the institutional context for social welfare expansion. This literature makes several important contributions to the study of distributive politics. It moves beyond regime type and party ideology and focuses on the nature of domestic political institutions and citizen-state linkages within Latin American democracies. Countries with robust political competition and denser ties to constituents have had the most extensive welfare expansion, and non-partisan programs have undermined clientelism. In single party dominated settings, the political incentives for informal and clientelist provision remains significant.
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Keywords: CLIENTELISM; DEMOCRATIZATION; DISTRIBUTIVE POLITICS; LATIN AMERICA; SOCIAL WELFARE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2021

This article was made available online on October 5, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Understanding the Expansion of Latin America’s New Social Welfare Regimes".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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