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Empirical studies measuring the impact of globalization on social spending have appeared recently in leading journals. This study seeks to improve upon previous work by (1) employing a more sophisticated and comprehensive measure of financial openness; (2) using a more accurate measure of trade openness based on purchasing power parities; and (3) relying on social spending data that are more complete than those used by previous studies on Latin America. Our estimates suggest that several empirical patterns reported in previous work deserve a second look. We find that trade openness has a positive association with education and social security expenditures, that financial openness does not constrain government outlays for social programs, and that democracy has a strong positive association with social spending, particularly on items that bolster human capital formation.