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The Political Economy of Policy Volatility in Latin America

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

David Doyle*
Politics and a fellow of St. Hugh's College, University of Oxford.


Why are some Latin American states plagued by persistent policy volatility while the policies of others remain relatively stable? This article explores the political economy of natural resource rents and policy volatility across Latin America. It argues that, all else equal, resource rents will create incentives for political leaders, which will result in repeated episodes of policy volatility. This effect, however, will depend on the structure of political institutions. Where political institutions fail to provide a forum for intertemporal exchange among political actors, natural resource rents will result in increased levels of policy volatility. Alternatively, where political institutions facilitate agreement among actors, resource rents will be conducive to policy stability. This argument is tested on a measure of policy volatility for 18 Latin American economies between 1993 and 2008. The statistical tests provide support for the argument.

Research Article
Copyright © University of Miami 2014

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