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Party Systems and Redistribution in Democratic Latin America

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A redistributive wave across Latin America provided credence to existing explanations that emphasize the importance of democracy and the political left for democratic redistribution. Yet, neither of these theories tells the entire story behind the contemporary politics of inequality in Latin America. This article stresses the importance of party systems for democratic redistribution, especially their role in increasing the scope of social policy as well as igniting competitive electoral environments that incentivize political elites to redistribute, leading to the amelioration of inequality over time. Utilizing a time-series cross-sectional dataset on fifteen Latin American countries covering the period of 1990–2015, and extending the analysis to sixty-five global democracies, this article finds that countries with institutionalized party systems exhibit greater income redistribution and lower levels of inequality than those with inchoate counterparts.
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Keywords: democracy; inequality; party systems; redistribution; social reforms

Appeared or available online: August 25, 2021

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