This paper investigates new directions in the evolution of Latin American welfare regimes by focusing on the extension of early childhood education and care (ECEC) policies in Argentina and Mexico, particularly in the last decade. Both states have paid increased attention to ECEC policies for several reasons: the failure of first-generation structural adjustment reforms to address problems of poverty; women's increased participation in the paid labor force and the adoption of a new investment social paradigm which emphasizes human capital formation. We argue that these factors play out in different ways in the two countries, as a result of different ideologies and political agendas of the governments and their different degrees of openness to the influence of international ideas. When looking at gender dimensions of their welfare regimes, Argentina and Mexico show very similar patterns of gender stratification, and both states display similarities between their policies in the area of early education. In the area of day care, however, Mexico encourages women to work via defamilialization of services, while Argentina reveals preference for low-income mothers to stay at home and work in the informal sector.


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pp. 80-102
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