Democracy and Redistribution in the Global South: From Fear to Policy

Can violent conflict caused by inequality motivate those in power to reduce income and asset disparities?

Project Summary

In the context of young democracies, the project examines how inequality-related negative consequences shape elite attitudes toward redistributive policies. The power to solve inequality-related challenges lies in the hands of the elites who benefit from them. Elite coalitions in favour of redistribution are possible. They tend to occur under particular sets of non-ideological motivations, such as when inequality becomes a source of problems for those at the top.

In terms of method – an interdisciplinary team of social scientists will generate estimates of elite attitudes across countries and time. This data will be contrasted with data about inequality and its consequences. The resulting dataset will allow the scientists to estimate the association between inequality, consequences, and redistribution. Concomitantly, the project will focus on cases where redistributive policies were implemented following the effect of inequality on elites. Case studies will combine the traditions of archival research in Political History with Bayesian estimations of confidence for causal analysis. The case studies will address redistributive land reforms in Brazil and Chile and the implementation of cash transfer programs in Brazil, South Africa, and Uruguay.

Generating reliable data about inequality’s gatekeepers will equip committed practitioners and activists to build more effective redistributive coalitions.

Research Team

Matias López
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Graziella Moraes Silva
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Livio Silva-Müller
Principal Member
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Thiago da Costa Lopes
Principal Member
Fundação Olwasdo Cruz

Ines Fynn
Principal member
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Lucia Selios
Principal Member
Universidad de la República, Uruguay





Policy domains


Host Institution