Forthcoming. “Party Systems, Inequality, and Redistribution.” Perspectives on Politics.
Abstract: Political parties have long been theorized as a key political institution that links society with the formal political system, and thus have often featured prominently in theories of political economy and redistribution. Curiously however, until recently party systems have received substantially less attention in theories seeking to explain redistribution among both democratic and non-democratic regimes. This article builds on this nascent literature by conceptualizing the relationship between party systems, inequality, and redistribution, advancing the argument that at least a portion of inequality and income redistribution in any given country is attributable to dynamics within its party system – particularly their structure and institutionalization. Hegemonic party systems can initiate large waves of social reform and redistribution in their formative years but their redistributive prospects significantly wane the longer a hegemonic party remains in power, while two-party systems are unlikely to provide much, if any, alleviation of inequality. Multi-party systems provide the greatest potential to redistribute but the relationship is conditional on their relative institutionalization. Stable multi-party systems with institutionalized parties are more likely to exhibit both lower levels of inequality and redistribute more income, whereas inchoate counterparts are unlikely to be more redistributive than either hegemonic or two-party systems.
“Party Systems and Redistribution in Democratic Latin America,” Comparative Politics 54(3): 429-552.
Abstract: A redistributive wave across Latin America provided credence to existing explanations that emphasize the importance of democracy and the political left for democratic redistribution. Yet, neither of these theories tell the entire story behind the contemporary politics of inequality in Latin America. This article stresses the importance of party systems for democratic redistribution, especially their role in increasing the scope of social policy as well as igniting competitive electoral environments that incentivize political elites to redistribute, leading to the amelioration of inequality over time. Utilizing a time-series cross-sectional dataset on fifteen Latin American countries covering the period of 1990–2015, and extending the analysis to sixty-five global democracies, this article finds that countries with institutionalized party systems exhibit greater income redistribution and lower levels of inequality than those with inchoate counterparts.
“Party Systems, Political Competition, and Inequality in Subnational Brazil,” Latin American Research Review 56(4): 797-813.
Abstract: Many have attributed the recent unprecedented wave of income redistribution in Brazil to national economic and political factors such as as the commodities boom, changes in minimum wages or premiums to skilled labor, and the rise of the Partido dos Trabalhadores and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Yet, much less attention has been devoted to the study of inequality at the subnational level, where relative levels of inequality across states remain incredibly varied. This article argues that Brazil’s most recent democratic transition enhanced political competition in some Brazilian state party systems, which in turn contributed to the amelioration of inequality. Utilizing a time-series cross-sectional dataset covering the highly redistributive period of 1998-2015, as well as a qualitative paired comparison between the states of Pará and Rio Grande do Sul, this article finds that Brazilian states with more competitive party systems are more likely to advance redistributive social policy and possess lower levels of inequality than those with less competitive party systems.