This study examines the effects of globalization, democratization, and partisanship on social spending in fourteen Latin American countries from 1973 to 1997, using a pooled time-series error-correction model. The authors examine three sets of issues. First, following debates in the literature on oecd countries, they want to know whether social spending has been encouraged or constrained by integration into global markets. Within this context, they examine the extent to which such outcomes might be influenced by two additional sets of domestic political and institutional factors discussed in work on developed countries: the electoral pressures of democratic institutions and whether or not popularly based governments are in power.
The authors show that trade integration has a consistently negative effect on aggregate social spending and that this is compounded by openness to capital markets. This is the strongest and most robust finding in the study. Neither democratic nor popularly based governments consistently affect overall social spending. The authors then disaggregate spending into social security transfers and expenditures on health and education. They find that popularly based governments tend to protect social security transfers, which tend to flow disproportionately to their unionized constituencies; but they have a negative impact on health and education spending. Conversely, a shift to democracy leads to increases in health and education spending, which reaches a larger segment of the population. The authors conclude by emphasizing the contrasting political logics of the different types of social spending.