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Abstract

This chapter classifies the main social policies enacted in Latin America from 1920 to 2010; explores the effects of those policies on the well-being of the poor; and outlines some of the forces and circumstances that led to the policies. The study's main findings are that social assistance and the public provision of many basic social services improved in Latin America after about 1990, even as the coverage of social insurance programs fell; that democracy and authoritarianism played an important and multifaceted role in shaping and constraining social policy-making in the region; and that a full explanation for why Latin American social policies evolved in the way that they did requires taking into account a wider range of factors than are usually invoked to explain the origins and evolution of welfare states in advanced industrial countries.

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