Discipline: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
Cristian Eduardo Martínez Medina - University of Puerto Rico
Co-Author(s): Erica Frantz, Michigan State University
Since Hugo Chavez’s ascension to power in 1999, populism has been on the rise in many parts of Latin America, a phenomenon often referred to as the Pink Tide. Candidates promoting populist rhetoric were victorious at the polls in countries ranging from Ecuador to Brazil. Central to much of this agenda has been an emphasis on welfare spending. This study examines the effect of welfare spending on government approval rates among Pink Tide governments. Though it is reasonable to expect that higher welfare spending will lead to more popular governments, this has yet to be empirically examined in the literature. This study assesses these possibilities. To do so, it looks at the relationship between welfare spending and government approval rates during the tenures of 16 populist Latin American presidents in 9 countries since 1999. There are two principal findings: (1) for all countries, presidential approval rates increase as the number of years in office increases; (2) presidential approval rates increase with greater health spending, but decrease once the number of years in office is taken into account. The findings of this study inform our understanding of the extent to which populism and welfare spending affect government approval. They also contribute to our expectations of the viability of the Pink Tide movement: if greater welfare spending does not increase government approval, then we should not expect the Pink Tide movement to be popular in the long term.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): AGEP Steven Thomas and SROP Staff Luis Cámara and UPR- RP Honors Program Staff.
Faculty Advisor: Erica Frantz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: The study examined the relationship between welfare spending (specifically health expenditure) in Pink Tide governments and government approval rates. I focus on the data analysis.