1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development (2000 - 2009)

Models of Development, Social Policy and Reform in Latin America (Draft)



Latin America is one of the regions in the world that has experimented with more development models, in addition, it has been at the forefront in social policies and a pioneer in market-oriented reforms in both areas. From the 1950s to the end of the 1970s, most countries in the region followed a mixed model of development characterized by the predominance of the market but with significant state control and intervention. At the start of the 1960s Cuba took a dramatic leap to the state, introducing a fully socialized economy with central planning. Conversely, in the mid 1970s, Chile took the opposite direction with a drastic economic reform that followed neoliberal ideas and moved that country to the market. The latter approach influenced policies of the major international financial organizations and has been eventually applied in most of the region.
Some Latin American countries also introduced the welfare state in the continent-- the first two being Uruguay and Chile in the 1920s-- and gradually developed to a zenith in the early 1970s. Cuba began this process in the 1930s and consolidated and significantly expanded it in the 1960s and 1970s. Costa Rica’s foundations of the welfare state were laid down in the 1940s, consolidated in the 1950s, and expanded in the 1960s and 1970s. Chile was not only a pioneer in both the reduction of the state and market-oriented reform, but also in the process of “privatization” of social services at the start of the 1980s. The severe economic crisis suffered by the region in that decade weakened the welfare state and the Chilean path was partially or fully followed in the 1990s.
This paper analyzes two important topics on development and social policy in Latin America: (I) the relationship between goals and means in three different models of development in the region: Chile (market), Cuba (statist-socialist) and Costa Rica (mixed), and the socioeconomic performance of these three models; and (II) the reform of the welfare state in Latin America, particularly of its major component social security, and its effects on the people and development.

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