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Democracy and Social Welfare in Uruguay and Paraguay



This article aims to assess how democracy affects social welfare by analyzing Uruguay and Paraguay, one country with a vibrant democratic history and a progressive political landscape, the other with a generally authoritarian past and a conservative dominant party. The article maintains that welfare systems in these countries have been critically shaped by the impact of democracy, or by its absence, and by the strategies adopted by major social and political actors, especially parties; these strategies have been determined, in turn, by parties' ideologies and by the workings of electoral competition. The article also emphasizes that the impact of democracy on social welfare is critically mediated by the role of previous welfare legacies, the presence of welfare constituencies defending acquired rights and privileges, and social and economic variables, such as overall wealth levels, the formal or informal nature of labor markets, and the political organization of domestic economies.