With the failure of market reform to generate sustained growth in many countries of the Global South, poverty reduction has become an urgent moral and political issue in the last several decades. In practice, considerable research shows that high levels of inequality are likely to produce high levels of criminal and political violence. On the road to development, states cannot but grapple with the challenges posed by poverty and wealth distribution.
Social Forces and States explains the reasons behind distinct distributional and poverty outcomes in three countries: South Korea, Chile, and Mexico. South Korea has successfully reduced poverty and has kept inequality low. Chile has reduced poverty but inequality remains high. Mexico has confronted higher levels of poverty and high inequality than either of the other countries. Judith Teichman takes a comparative historical approach, focusing upon the impact of the interaction between social forces and states. Distinct from approaches that explain social well-being through a comparative examination of social welfare regimes, this book probes more deeply, incorporating a careful consideration of how historical contexts and political struggles shaped very different development trajectories, welfare arrangements, and social possibilities.