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Pension Returns and Popular Support for Neoliberalism in Post-Pension Reform Latin America

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 October 2018


Latin American pension reforms during the 1990s dramatically increased the number of people in the region who had a direct stake in the returns on financial capital. This article asks: How, if at all, has this expansion affected Latin American politics? It focuses particularly on popular attitudes towards neoliberalism. It argues that government-induced expansions of capital ownership do not directly affect public preferences about neoliberalism, but did so indirectly by shaping the information that people use to judge whether neoliberalism is welfare enhancing. According to this view, participation in a reformed Latin American pension system should lead to acceptance of neoliberalism when pensions returns are high, but have the opposite effect when returns are low. This study analyzes multiple datasets of Latin American survey data and finds support for this theory.

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Michigan State University (email: The author would like to thank seminar participants at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas, panelists and audience members at the Midwest Political Science Association, and anonymous reviewers. Data replication sets are available in Harvard Dataverse at and online appendices are available at


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