Michelle Dion, McMaster University

Assistant Professor Political Science Hamilton, Ontario dionm@mcmaster.ca Office: (905) 525-9140 ext. 24029

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Bio/Research

Michelle Dion is Associate Professor of Political Science at McMaster University. She specializes in the political economy of pension, health, and social policy in Latin America and teaches courses in comparative public policy, research methodology and statistics for public policy analysis. Her b...

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Bio/Research

Michelle Dion is Associate Professor of Political Science at McMaster University. She specializes in the political economy of pension, health, and social policy in Latin America and teaches courses in comparative public policy, research methodology and statistics for public policy analysis. Her book, Workers and Welfare (U of Pittsburgh Press), explains a century of social protection policies in Mexico. Her research has appeared in Comparative Politics, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Latin American Studies, Social Policy and Administration, Social Politics, and PS: Political Science and Politics, among others. She was formerly Associate Professor with tenure in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA, USA) and has been a Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE, Mexico City, Mexico) and Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM, Monterrey, Mexico).

Michelle Dion's research addresses the ways in which economic and political processes produce different social policy outcomes in the developing world, particularly in Latin America. Using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, her work addresses key policy questions, including: Why do national social policies vary? What effect does globalization have on policies in developing countries, particularly in Latin America? And, what shapes public preferences for policy? Her work demonstrates that the answers to these questions lie at the intersection of political power and institutions. Economic change and domestic political institutions influence the political capacity of groups to shape welfare policy outcomes.

Her book, Workers and Welfare in Latin America: Mexico in Comparative and Historical Perspective (University of Pittsburgh Press, Latin America Series, 2010), examines the role of organized labor and institutional change in the development of welfare policy in Latin America. Drawing insights from the development welfare policies in the advanced industrialized democracies and the literature in economics and political science on institutional stability and change, she develops a theoretical framework that explains how the interaction of working class power, political institutions, and policy legacies shape welfare policy outcomes. This framework is used to examine the politics and development of welfare policy in Mexico since the 1920s. Qualitative evidence from historical archives, other primary documents, and over 80 interviews with Mexican elites combined with statistical analysis of original data on worker mobilization and welfare provision demonstrate the ways in which organized workers, institutions, and policy legacies shape welfare outcomes. Contrary to common characterizations, labor unions played a central role in the development of Mexican welfare policy throughout the 20th century. However, economic and political reforms of the 1980s and 1990s changed the relationship between unions and the government in ways that led to fundamental changes in social policy. This project was supported by two nationally (U.S.) competitive graduate fellowships (1998-99, 2000-01) and one Faculty Fulbright Award (2004-05).



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