Associate Professor of Political Science
Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile
Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow
University of Notre Dame
“Against All Odds: Social Policy Rollbacks in Democratic Chile”
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
12:30 pm - C103 Hesburgh Center
Among students of social policy reform worldwide, Chile is considered a paradigmatic case of study. Under military rule (1973–1990), the country adopted orthodox economic policies and promoted a radical process of social policy retrenchment. During the first two democratic governments of the center-left Concertación coalition (1990–2000), there was remarkable continuity of this market-oriented social policy model. Despite a general consensus as to its success, Presidents Ricardo Lagos (2000–2005) and Michelle Bachelet (2005–2010) promoted significant social policy transformations, particularly in the areas of health care and pensions. Thus, social policy variation in Chile leads us to an intriguing paradox. Why have two governments that inherited a “successful” model embarked on a process of policy rollback in health care and pensions? I argue that social policy variation can be explained by the distribution of governmental authority, the ideological positions of policy makers, and the ability of nongovernmental actors’ ability to influence social policy.