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Dependency Revisited: International Markets, Business Cycles, and Social Spending in the Developing World

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  • Wibbels, Erik

Abstract

While increased exposure to the global economy is associated with increased welfare effort in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the opposite holds in the developing world. These differences are typically explained with reference to domestic politics. Tradables, unions, and the like in the developing world are assumed to have less power or interests divergent to those in the OECD—interests that militate against social spending. I claim that such arguments can be complemented with a recognition that developed and developing nations have distinct patterns of integration into global markets. While income shocks associated with international markets are quite modest in the OECD, they are profound in developing nations. In the OECD, governments can respond to those shocks by borrowing on capital markets and spending countercyclically on social programs. No such opportunity exists for most governments in the developing world, most of which have limited access to capital markets in tough times, more significant incentives to balance budgets, and as a result cut social spending at the times it is most needed. Thus, while internationally inspired volatility and income shocks seem not to threaten the underpinnings of the welfare state in rich nations, it undercuts the capacity of governments in the developing world to smooth consumption (and particularly consumption by the poor) across the business cycle.The author would like to thank Steph Haggard, Kristin Bakke, Wongi Choe, Tim Jones, and seminar participants at Duke University, Penn State University, Washington University, MIT, and the University of New Mexico for their helpful comments. Nancy Brune, Mark Hallerberg and Rolf Strauch, and Nita Rudra were very generous in providing their capital account, OECD fiscal, and potential labor power data, respectively.

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  • Wibbels, Erik, 2006. "Dependency Revisited: International Markets, Business Cycles, and Social Spending in the Developing World," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(2), pages 433-468, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:60:y:2006:i:02:p:433-468_06
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    2. Blanton, Robert G. & Blanton, Shannon Lindsey & Peksen, Dursun, 2015. "Financial Crises and Labor: Does Tight Money Loosen Labor Rights?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 1-12.
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    4. Stephen B. Kaplan, 2014. "The Political Economy of Sovereign Debt: Global Finance and Electoral Cycles," Working Papers 2015-1, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    5. Niklas Potrafke, 2019. "The globalisation–welfare state nexus: Evidence from Asia," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(3), pages 959-974, March.
    6. Stephen B. Kaplan & Kaj Thomsson, 2014. "The Political Economy of Sovereign Borrowing: Explaining the Policy Choices of Highly Indebted Governments," Working Papers 2014-10, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    7. Kono Daniel Y., 2011. "Insuring Free Trade: Unemployment Insurance and Trade Policy," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(3), pages 1-31, October.
    8. Sera Linardi & Nita Rudra, 2015. "Globalization and Redistribution Towards the Poor in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from India," Artefactual Field Experiments 00399, The Field Experiments Website.
    9. Raj M. Desai & Nita Rudra, 2016. "Trade, poverty, and social protection in developing countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 139, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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    11. Mitra, Arup & Tsujita, Yuko, 2014. "Dimensions and determinants of upward mobility : a study based on longitudinal data from Delhi slums," IDE Discussion Papers 448, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
    12. Azar Dufrechou, Paola, 2016. "The efficiency of public education spending in Latin America: A comparison to high-income countries," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 188-203.
    13. Stephen Kaplan, 2016. "Fighting Past Economic Wars: Crisis and Austerity in Latin America," Working Papers 2015-13, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    14. Hecock, R. Douglas & Jepsen, Eric M., 2013. "Should Countries Engage in a Race to the Bottom? The Effect of Social Spending on FDI," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 156-164.
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    17. Stephen B. Kaplan, 2018. "The Rise of Patient Capital: The Political Economy of Chinese Global Finance," Working Papers 2018-2, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy, revised Jul 2018.
    18. Stephen Kaplan, 2015. "Banking Unconditionally: The Political Economy of Chinese Finance in Latin America," Working Papers 2015-14, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    19. Stephen B. Kaplan, 2014. "Political Economy of Macroeconomic Policymaking: Economic Crises and Technocratic Governance," Working Papers 2014-18, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.

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