Latin America's Decline: A Long Historical View

40 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2009 Last revised: 16 Jun 2023

See all articles by Sebastian Edwards

Sebastian Edwards

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Global Economics and Management (GEM) Area; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 2009

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Edwards, Sebastian, Latin America's Decline: A Long Historical View (July 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15171, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1435628

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