IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The determinants of social spending in Spain, 1950-1980, Are dictatorships less redistributive?


  • Sergio Espuelas-Barroso

    (Universitat de Barcelona)


Most of the studies about the welfare state have focused so far on the affluent democracies. However, poorer and non-democratic countries have deserved less attention. This paper provides new evidence on the evolution of social spending in both Spain and Portugal between 1950 and 1980. Since both of them were dictatorships throughout almost the whole period, that new evidence allows us to study the relationship between dictatorships and redistribution. In addition to the level of social spending and its distribution among different items, the way in which social spending is financed is also analyzed in this paper. More exactly, the ratio of social security contributions to social spending is used as an indicator of redistribution. The main findings of this paper show that besides economic and demographic factors (as the level of GDP and the ageing of population) political factors are key determinants of social spending and the way in which it is funded. During the time-period 1950-80 dictatorships had a negative effect on social spending, and were more prone to finance social protection via social contributions, which did not imply redistribution through government budgets. Therefore, in contrast to the political legitimacy theories and those theories neglecting the role played by political factors, we find that (at least in the southern-European periphery) dictatorships were less redistributive than democracies. On the other hand, this papers findings also suggest that, rather than provoking a race to the bottom or an increase in social spending levels, globalization favored the adoption of tax-funded systems instead of contributory programs.

Suggested Citation

  • Sergio Espuelas-Barroso, 2010. "The determinants of social spending in Spain, 1950-1980, Are dictatorships less redistributive?," Working Papers in Economics 240, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
  • Handle: RePEc:bar:bedcje:2010240

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    2. David M. Cutler & Richard Johnson, 2004. "The Birth and Growth of the Social Insurance State: Explaining Old Age and Medical Insurance Across Countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 120(1_2), pages 87-121, July.
    3. Kristov, Lorenzo & Lindert, Peter & McClelland, Robert, 1992. "Pressure groups and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 135-163, July.
    4. Lindert, Peter H., 1996. "What Limits Social Spending?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-34, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bar:bedcje:2010240. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Espai de Recerca en Economia). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.