Democracy and the Threat of Redistribution in Latin America

46 Pages Posted: 23 May 2011

See all articles by Michael Albertus

Michael Albertus

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 20, 2011

Abstract

Recent work on the causes of democratic transition and duration highlights the obstacle inequality poses to democracy due to the redistributive threat from below. Yet inequality and democracy are much more compatible empirically than predicted by recent theory, and nowhere is this more pronounced than in Latin America. New data on land reform in Latin America from 1951-1990 demonstrates that autocracy, not democracy, is more likely to implement heavy redistribution. This finding has important theoretical implications. If elites out of government recognize that a powerful autocratic regime can at times pose a greater threat to their interests than democracy, democratization is more likely despite high inequality, particularly if these elites can use their power to win favorable policies under democracy.

Keywords: Democracy, autocracy, redistribution, land reform, Latin America, democratization, inequality

Suggested Citation

Albertus, Michael, Democracy and the Threat of Redistribution in Latin America (May 20, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1848128 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1848128

Michael Albertus (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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