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Usted está aquí: Inicio Acerca del CLAD Publicaciones Revista del CLAD Reforma y Democracia Artículos por número publicado 031, Febrero 2005 Institutional Paths and Policies Designed to Reduce Poverty: the Experiences of Argentina, Chile and Mexico
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Institutional Paths and Policies Designed to Reduce Poverty: the Experiences of Argentina, Chile and Mexico

Fabián Repetto & Fernanda Potenza Dal Masetto

During the last fifteen years, several Latin American countries created new type of programs to reduce poverty as well as special agencies to coordinate state actions in social matters. Among them, the experiences of Argentina, Chile and Mexico stand out. The aim of this paper is to describe the main features of the institutional paths and the policies carried out by these countries in the areas mentioned above and to analyze the factors that might have conditioned their performances.

The experiences of those countries were studied on the basis of two variables: sustainability over time and comprehensiveness of the policies carried out. With respect to sustainability, we assume that if all the state agencies consider themselves responsible for the policies to alleviate poverty, there will be more chances to reach long term agreements. On the other hand, if only the current government (or even a group within it) takes responsibility for those policies, it will be more likely for a group to profit from state actions to serve private purposes and for a new government to start anew. With regard to comprehensiveness, we think that if the work done by the state agencies is coordinated, it will be easier to solve and/or alleviate the multiple causes of poverty. On the contrary, if their efforts are not coordinated, the undertaken actions will have very little impact on the resolution of such a complex problem as poverty is.

Two main aspects were observed in each of the three countries: their experiences regarding the creation and functioning of a central agency capable of coordinate the policies to alleviate poverty (agencies usually known as “social authority”), on one hand, and the features of the programs designed with the same purpose, on the other. Thus, we pretended to establish to what extent the different characteristics of those programs in terms of sustainability and comprehensiveness -taken as a concrete expression of the policy to alleviate poverty carried out by a certain country- are related to the performance of the rules and mechanisms specifically set up to meet those ends.

As a result of our research, we found out that the experiences related with the creation of a “social authority” -whatever its institutional shape- have little impact on the success or failure of the policies set up to alleviate poverty, both in terms of sustainability and comprehensiveness. Instead, some results of the social policy proved to be more associated to the general institutional architecture that -direct and indirectly- conditions the social policies, as well as the way in which actors mobilize their resources within that frame.

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