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Title: Social policy and income inequality in the Southern Cone during the 20th century : a comparative perspective
Author: Biehl Lundberg, Andrés
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 0818
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This dissertation compares the effects of progressive social reform on income inequality in the Southern Cone of South America, Scandinavia, and Australasia. These regions faced comparable economic challenges at the start of the 20th century, but experienced different trends of income inequality after they introduced progressive policies in this period. Australasia and Scandinavia converged on a downward trend while the Southern Cone remained comparatively more unequal. The dissertation concentrates on three areas that significantly predict inequality in contemporary research: labour markets, education, and taxation and spending policies. Existing explanations usually focus on supply-side aspects of policy reform: wage regulation, and increased taxation and spending on education and social insurance, are thought to bring inequality down in the long-run. These reforms are seen as the outcome of the relative power of working class groups over elites. Despite institutional variation, the three regions enacted progressive policies to address distributional conflict and protect their economies from global risks. I study the demand-side of policy reform; policies faced considerable collective action problems to promote compliance and cooperation in order to work in the long-time and include populations at large. The fact that most people were motivated to comply meant that labour markets generated formality and standard wages, education increased human capital, and spending became stable as the tax base increased in Scandinavia and the Antipodes. The opposite happened in the Southern Cone as social actors tried to link selectively with the state while state officials neglected the material constraints that limited access to welfare and education. Each chapter spells out the conditions through which policy addressed collective action problems to motivate cooperation with wage agreements, sending children to school, and compliance with taxation and spending policies. Behind comparable aggregate numbers in these areas, the underlying social processes differed as Australasians and Scandinavians fostered cooperation between state and social actors, while the Southern Cone did not.
Supervisor: Chan, Tak Wing Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social policy ; Taxation ; Income distribution ; South America--Economic conditions--20th century ; Australasia--Economic conditions--20th century ; Scandinavia--Economic conditions--20th century