Recently, Latin American countries have had to face the challenges of improving social inclusion and economic redistribution while consolidating democratic institutions after long periods of authoritarian regimes in many of them. Addressing pressure for social inclusion was all the more difficult, since these societies are characterized by some of the worst income disparities in the world and high degrees of labor market informality.
After the 70’s, the massive explosion of social demands in the transition to democracy transformed the region into a social laboratory aiming to promote social inclusion. So, many different projects were designed and implemented in order to prevail over the main features of the stratified (Mesa-Lago, 1978) and segregated (Filgueira C.; Filgueira F., 2002) Latin-American pattern of social policies. This has been the recent challenge for these societies, requiring the development of new values, institutions and policy designs. However, the movement to universalize social rights took off in a juncture of macroeconomic adjustment and pressure to reduce public spending, engendering new social policies designs with the double aim of universalizing coverage and targeting the poor. The main dilemma of public policy decision-makers has been how to increase pluralism and competition without increasing inequality in the system of social protection.