Regional cooperation has been an enduring feature of Latin American politics for more than half a century. With the turn of the century, regional organizations moved beyond traditional free trade issues to embrace cooperation in broader social policy areas. A recent literature relates this change to the left turn in the region, especially in South America. Yet, in practice, relevant differences persist in terms of how social policy is regulated at the regional level. This article looks precisely into this variation. In essence, it studies regulatory cooperation in the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) and thus offers a comparative assessment of the institutions and policy instruments devised in two social areas: education and health. Using an original dataset on the documents passed by MERCOSUR between 1991 and 2016, the findings provide evidence that the definition of the policy problem matters as this affects the institutional mechanisms and the policy instruments and strategies devised to address them. In this context, different policy problem definitions seem to account for two distinct emerging patterns of social regulatory cooperation in the Southern Cone.
Global Social Policy: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Public Policy and Social Development – SAGE
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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