Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Universal human rights as new political power resources: Explaining social spending variation and national income inequality in 18 Latin American nations, 1980–2008
by Shekha, Kaiser Russell, Ph.D., The Florida State University, 2012, 149; 3539622
Abstract (Summary)

Universal human rights include guarantees to adequate income and fair wages, sufficient healthcare, and investments in educations and are extended to all regardless of their social and citizenship status. Universal human rights are centered internationally at the United Nations and institutionalized at the national level through international human rights treaty ratifications and National Human Rights Institution adoptions. In this dissertation I ask if extending power resources theory to universal human rights lead to higher social spending levels and lower levels of national income inequality. I also ask if welfare state theories focusing on the effects of industrialization, the national and globalized economy, and traditional national political power resources affect social spending levels and national income inequality. I ask this using a sample of 18 Latin American nations from 1980-2008. I use advanced statistical techniques including non-parametric pooled OLS models that address problems of heteroskedasticity, autocorrelation, and temporally correlated panels and multiple imputation techniques available in STATA 11. In testing more traditional approaches to social spending levels and national income inequality I find that the logic of industrialism, which focuses on the effects of economic growth and associated demographic transitions, globalization theory, which emphasizes the effects of international trade, foreign investment, privatization, and fiscal austerity, and power resources theory, which links national political regimes and political balance of power to spending and inequality, continue to have significant effects on social spending levels and national income inequality in contemporary Latin America. However, the real story is the effects of universal human rights on social spending levels and national income inequality. I find that treaty ratifications improve health and education spending levels while they are associated with declining social security and welfare spending. Treaty ratifications are also associated with lower levels of national income inequality. National Human Rights Institution adoptions are associated with increases in all forms of social spending levels, but have no effect on national income inequality. Overall, universal human rights have mostly positive effects on social spending and reductions in income inequality, and provide positive proof of the continuing extension of social rights to income security, adequate healthcare, and quality educations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Quadagno, Jill
Commitee: Moore, William H., Rohlinger, Deana, Tope, Daniel
School: The Florida State University
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Latin American Studies, Political science, Social structure
Keywords: Human rights, Inequality, Latin America, Political economy, Quantitative, Welfare state
Publication Number: 3539622
ISBN: 978-1-267-64037-6
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