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Renegotiating the Inheritance: Strategizing Targeted Social Programs in Latin America

Belasco, Christopher A. (2014) Renegotiating the Inheritance: Strategizing Targeted Social Programs in Latin America. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In what ways do leaders help themselves to votes when they design and administer social policy? While political leaders acknowledge: “good policy, good votes” in social policy design and administration, the direction of redistributive targeting carries electoral implications, creating incentives to politicize distribution. This study utilizes a comparative framework to develop a theoretical model to explain targeted social policy choice in Latin American countries. It presents a systematic account of how programs are developed and politicized, and shows how they are a function of elements of horizontal accountability that affect how leaders pursue their agenda.
To assess this theory, the project utilizes a mixed-method approach to examine cases in Brazil and Venezuela. To show the variation between programmatic and parochial social programs it examines expenditure patterns, program oversight, and tests of political and demographic determinants on program distribution to examine how programs with different levels of oversight are targeted. It then examines the effect of partisan powers on the design of programs, showing how horizontal accountability affects integration of reform elements that provide oversight and moderation of program design. To understand the electoral payoff of different targeted programs, it examines survey data to test effects of program participation on incumbent electoral support.
This investigation reveals that leaders politicize targeted social programs by choosing distributional strategies, but are constrained in doing so by elements of horizontal accountability such as political competition and the institutionalization of the party system. The effects of these elements are shown in the cases and analysis of program distribution. Both programmatic and parochial distributive strategies have electoral effects, but the degree of effect varies. The quality of program outcomes varies too by distributive strategy. Better programs are the product of political interactions that affect the degree to which leaders can redistribute in a parochial manner. Evidence from Brazil and Venezuela shows variation in the politics, their outputs, the electoral effects, and program outcomes. The relationship of “good policy, good votes” is determined by “good politics” showing the effect of political institutions that constrain leaders from seeking “bad policy” and votes that follow.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Belasco, Christopher A.belasco@gspia.pitt.eduCABST100
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorMorgenstern, Scott J.smorgens@pitt.eduSMORGENS
Committee MemberNelson, Paul J.pjnelson@pitt.eduPJNELSON
Committee MemberThemudo, Nunothemudo@pitt.eduTHEMUDO
Committee MemberPicard, Louis A.picard@pitt.eduPICARD
Date: 29 January 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 November 2013
Approval Date: 29 January 2014
Submission Date: 5 December 2013
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 277
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Latin America; social policy; targeting; legislatures; cash transfers; comparative politics
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2014 18:58
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2019 06:15


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