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Social Protection and the Market in Latin America
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Book description

Social security institutions have been among the most stable post-war social programs around the world. Increasingly, however, these institutions have undergone profound transformation from public risk-pooling systems to individual market-based designs. Why has this 'privatization' occurred? Why do some governments enact more radical pension privatizations than others? This book provides a theoretical and empirical account of when and to what degree governments privatize national old-age pension systems. Quantitative cross-national analysis simulates the degree of pension privatization around the world and tests competing hypotheses to explain reform outcomes. In addition, comparative analysis of pension reforms in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay evaluate a causal theory of institutional change. The central argument is that pension privatization emerges from political conflict, rather than from exogenous pressures. The argument is developed around three dimensions: the double bind of globalization, contingent path-dependent processes, and the legislative politics of loss imposition.


'Social Protection and the Market seeks to explain why pension privatization in Latin America took the form that it. In doing so Sarah Brooks provides us with three critical insights; Globalization didn’t make them do it; ideas do indeed matter in promoting institutional change, and the legislative politics of reform is never straightforward. Richly substantiated with multiple methods and informed by a theoretically innovative framework, [Brooks' study] gives us a better understanding of the forces of endogenous institutional change that extend well beyond the cases in question.'

Mark Blyth - Johns Hopkins University

'Sarah Brooks has written a compelling account of the recent privatization of policies of old-age insurance, which combines quantitative research with an analysis of policy developments in four Latin American countries. This book highlights the complex interplay of international financial pressures, legislative competition and the importance of pre-existing policy legacies in shaping the depth of pension reforms. Her explanation accounts for both 'path-dependent' and 'path-departing' policy change and represents an important contribution to theories of institutional change.'

Isabela Mares - Columbia University

'Sarah Brooks’ theoretically sophisticated and well-researched book successfully challenges the conventional wisdom on the power of globalization pressures and the constraints arising from institutional path dependency and perceptively highlights the role of contingency and political leadership in institutional transformation. The book is highly recommended to all students of institutional persistence and change.'

Kurt Weyland - University of Texas at Austin

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