In this article, we argue that both democracy and governments’ partisanship have a bearing on state capacity in Latin America. We also maintain that state capacity is a condition rooted in history and society: it can be built or purposefully undermined. In particular, in Latin America parties of the left have frequently operated to reallocate social and political clout in favor of underprivileged groups: the inclusion of the latter in the political process helped states to thwart pressures from dominant elites opposing redistribution and tax increases. These mobilized groups have also pushed for universal public services, as high-quality education, health care or public housing, which required well-functioning administrations and an adequate institutional capacity, thus contributing to consolidate stateness in the area. Whereas previous qualitative studies analyzed the mechanisms that relate democracy and political partisanship to state capacity, we test this hypothesis quantitatively. To this end, we estimate the effect over time of democracy, political parties and other socio-demographic factors on a composite measure of stateness, obtaining supportive evidence: in particular, we find that higher democracy levels and left-leaning governments favored the growth of state strength in the area during 1975–2009 and discuss these findings with reference to the political experience of Latin America.

Political Determinants of State Capacity in Latin America

MEMOLI, VINCENZO
2016

Abstract

In this article, we argue that both democracy and governments’ partisanship have a bearing on state capacity in Latin America. We also maintain that state capacity is a condition rooted in history and society: it can be built or purposefully undermined. In particular, in Latin America parties of the left have frequently operated to reallocate social and political clout in favor of underprivileged groups: the inclusion of the latter in the political process helped states to thwart pressures from dominant elites opposing redistribution and tax increases. These mobilized groups have also pushed for universal public services, as high-quality education, health care or public housing, which required well-functioning administrations and an adequate institutional capacity, thus contributing to consolidate stateness in the area. Whereas previous qualitative studies analyzed the mechanisms that relate democracy and political partisanship to state capacity, we test this hypothesis quantitatively. To this end, we estimate the effect over time of democracy, political parties and other socio-demographic factors on a composite measure of stateness, obtaining supportive evidence: in particular, we find that higher democracy levels and left-leaning governments favored the growth of state strength in the area during 1975–2009 and discuss these findings with reference to the political experience of Latin America.
stateness; democracy; Latin America
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/243667
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