Social Policy Commitment in South America. The Effect of Organized Labor on Social Spending from 1980 to 2010

Sara Niedzwiecki


This paper studies the effect of organized labor on social policy commitment in Latin America. Contrary to the idea that unions are not expected to be major promoters of social state development due to being weakened by dictatorship and structural adjustment, I argue for the incorporation of this variable in statistical analysis of social spending. Through pooled time-series regressions of 10 South American countries from 1980 to 2010, this paper finds that union strength has a statistically significant and positive effect on social spending. This analysis also confirms that democracy and the concentration of power in the executive all have a significant effect with regard to predicting changes in the levels of social spending.

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