What is it about?

This article argues that party politics plays a vital role in shaping the political economies of non-OECD democracies, and shows that increasing inflence of leftist parties in government is associated with increases in public social expenditure. It is argued that more research is needed about the role of parties in more recently democratized countries, as well as regarding the conditions under which the ideological orientation of parties in government actually matter for public policy in this context.

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Why is it important?

Despite a growing emphasis on the role of social protection in combating poverty and inequality in developing countries, the question of which factors has driven non-western governments to expand or retrench social protection during the last decades has not been thoroughly studied. The emerging literature in this field has emphasized structural and institutional causes, primarily globalization, deindustrialization and democratization, while the role of actors has attracted less attantion. This study remedies this ommision by focusing on partisan politics, and especially the impact that Left parties in government have on social expenditures. This is the first study to take on the question of the influence of the political left on social protection policy, using data from recent decades covering a global set of non-OECD countries.


This is the first study coming out of my PhD project, focused on the causes and consequences of social policies in a development context, carried out at the Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI) at Stockholm University.

Sebastian Sirén
Stockholm University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Is there anything Left? The politics of social spending in new democracies, Governance, August 2020, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/gove.12466.
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