Risk and Reversals: Explaining Individual-Level Support for Public Social Insurance Expansion in Latin America
39 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2012 Last revised: 22 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2012
The provision of social insurance in Latin America has undergone rapid and significant changes in recent years. After a strong swing toward private solutions in the 1990s, many countries have moved decisively in the opposite direction in the 2000s. Publicly-funded initiatives – including tax-financed, non-contributory benefits – have taken on new prominence in the “policy-mix” of public and private offerings in a wide set of countries. Surprisingly, this return of the state has enjoyed broad-based popular support. Why? Using survey data from eighteen Latin American countries, this paper documents the decisive role that employment vulnerability and income sensitivity play in determining the recent, individual-level demand for public (rather than private) provision of social policy. It finds that exposure to labor-market risks, both at the individual and household-level, is strongly associated with support for public options. In contrast, household income – long held to be a major factor in social insurance preferences – has differing effects across policy areas, with a non-linear influence on public health plans, but no clear effect for pensions.
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