Who Decides Social Policy? The Political Economy of Social Programs in Latin America

Buy the book at

PUBLISHED: July 2015
RELATED TOPICS: Government and Democracy
  • Spanish version


Why do some social programs succeed while others do not? Because public policies are not designed and implemented in a vacuum: they are an integral part of the policymaking process. This book endeavors to understand how the decision-making process works in practice through a combined analysis of social networks and political economy. Use and application of these instruments make it possible to examine specific cases of social programs in the region. It is hoped that the evidence gleaned from this research helps us understand the outcomes of public policies, and leads to better design and more efficient implementation of social programs in Latin America.

Related links:

Buy the book on Amazon.com here


“Required reading for policymakers, technocrats, donors, and think tanks who are working to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of social policies in Latin America. This book explains how political economy can make or break policies. It also provides a practical methodology for analyzing who the policy players are, from the program design phase to the implementation phase, thus improving the design and performance of program interventions.”
—Lykke Andersen, Cofounder and Senior Researcher of the Bolivian think tank INESAD

“The book addresses a critical component of the social policy implementation process, which will ultimately determine the outcome of social policies.”
—Luis Carlos Jemio, Former Finance Minister of Bolivia

“Ten years after publishing the report The Politics of Policies, the IDB has led the effort to promulgate the political economy approach to analyzing and designing public policies in Latin America. This book represents another milestone in that endeavor, and is of great educational value. It develops relatively sophisticated concepts in a straightforward way for a wide audience ranging from policy analysts, to policymakers, to those who implement policies. There is no doubt in my mind that this book will be a key tool for designing and implementing social policies in Latin America.”
—Mariano Tommasi, Professor, Department of Economics at the University of San Andrés, and Former President of the Latin American Economic Association (LACEA)

“This is a textbook that enriches the theoretical base by analyzing the political economy of stakeholder networks in public programs. The book includes case studies showing the relevance of political economy. Understanding why an intervention worked better in one place or context than in another, and identifying the formal and informal coordination and management mechanisms that determine the success or failure of these interventions enable us to improve their design, implementation, and evaluation. This methodology can be implemented in different sectors (social safety nets, nutrition, health, employment, etc.), thus paving the way for achieving greater effectiveness.”
—Carolina Trivelli, Former Minister of Development and Social Inclusion, Peru

In the Press:

"Por qué fracasan las políticas públicas". Bastión Digital. July 2015

"Quiénes deciden la política social?" Vox.LACEA. August 2015

Related Research by JEL Codes:
(or click here to find research by JEL Codes)

Hello, Welcome to the IDB!

Please join our mailing list by simply entering your email below.