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Vázquez-D'Elía, Javier (2014) (RE-)SHAPING THE POLITICAL ARENA? A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF WELFARE REGIME REFORMS IN LATIN AMERICA, 1980-2010. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation examines the processes and outcomes of welfare regimes reforms in eleven Latin American countries, between 1980 and 2010. It theorizes the reforms by comparing pensions, health care, and social assistance policies. In so doing, it confronts three theoretical goals. First, it provides an explanation of recent transformations of welfare regimes as resulting from the combined effects of gradual institutional change and exogenous socioeconomic transformations. Second, it explores the potentialities and limitations of historical institutionalism. Third, it identifies emerging patterns of governance.
Mismatches between institutions and social problems trigger reforms, but do not determine the options that policy makers finally choose. Frictions caused by emerging social risks interact with difficulties of established welfare regimes to cope with old risks to facilitate access to public agendas for reformist projects. Ultimately, however, reforms depend on the construction of pro-and anti-reform coalitions, shaped by two main forces: 1) lines of discrimination in the distribution of benefits by existing welfare regimes; 2) strategies of parties, interest groups, and bureaucracies, competing to activate those cleavages according to their interests.
Socioeconomic change, fiscal strain, and transnational factors, interact to make the expansion of social protection contingent upon redistributions of burdens and benefits guaranteed to trigger resistance from groups privileged by existing schemes. The strategic challenge for reformist politicians is the crafting of formulas aimed at simultaneously neutralizing potential veto coalitions and mobilizing unprotected populations. This requires combining strategies of blame-avoidance and credit-claiming that variably mix persuasion, exclusion, and division targeting potential opposition. Selective pay-offs to appease privileged groups constitute the most direct determinants of the architecture of reforms.
In explaining the reforms, I discuss endogenous institutional change and how this results in fragmented social protection policies. However, exogenous shocks may facilitate changes away from expected paths. Certain institutional configurations are also found to block the consolidation of structural reforms entailing drastic institutional discontinuity, leading to situations of chronic instability and serial institutional replacement.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Vázquez-D'Elía, Javierdev3@pitt.eduDEV3
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairMorgenstern, Scottsmorgens@pitt.eduSMORGENS
Committee CoChairPeters, B.Guybgpeters@pitt.eduBGPETERS
Committee MemberAmes, Barrybames@pitt.eduBAMES
Committee MemberMarkoff, Johnjm2@pitt.eduJM2
Date: 30 May 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 31 January 2014
Approval Date: 30 May 2014
Submission Date: 15 May 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 491
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: welfare regimes, social security, welfare reform, public policy, institutional change
Date Deposited: 30 May 2014 14:10
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:20


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