NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Latin America's Decline: A Long Historical View

Sebastian Edwards

NBER Working Paper No. 15171
Issued in July 2009
NBER Program(s):   IFM   ITI

In this paper I analyze Latin America's very long term economic performance (since the early 18th century), and I compare it with that of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the countries of Western Europe. I begin with an analysis of long term data and an attempt at determining when the region's decline really began. The next section deals with the relation between the strength of institutions since colonial rule and the region’s economic performance. Next I move to an analysis of Latin America's long history with instability, crises and debt defaults. I show that currency collapses have been a staple of the region's economic history. In the Section that follows I analyze the long term evolution of social conditions, including poverty and income inequality. This analysis shows that a high degree of income disparity and poverty have a long history in the region. The paper ends with an analysis of the way in which Latin American intellectuals and scholars have seen the increasing economic and income gap with the United States and Canada.

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Published: Edwards, Sebastian, 2009. "Protectionism and Latin America's historical economic decline," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 573-584, July.

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