Trends in Infrastructure in Latin America, 1980-2001

51 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

Date Written: September 2004


There is widespread concern across Latin America that the provision of infrastructure services has suffered as a consequence of the retrenchment of the public sector and the insufficient response of the private sector to the opening up of infrastructure industries to private participation in most countries. Calderon and Serven document the recent trends in infrastructure stocks and infrastructure investment in major Latin American economies. Using an updated dataset constructed for this task, the authors describe the evolution of the quantity and quality of infrastructure assets - power, transport, and telecommunications - as well as the investment expenditures of the public and private sectors. They find that Latin America lags behind the international norm in terms of infrastructure quantity and quality, and there is little evidence that the gap may be closing - except in the telecommunications sector. Furthermore, overall infrastructure investment has fallen, as a combined result of the retrenchment of public investment and the limited response of the private sector, which has been mostly confined to the telecommunications industry. However, there is considerable disparity across countries. On the whole the data show that the countries most successful in attracting large volumes of private investment (Bolivia, Chile, and Colombia) are precisely those where public investment has remained high.

This paper - a joint product of the Finance, Private Sector, and Infrastructure Department, and the Office of the Chief Economist, Latin America and the Caribbean Region - is part of a larger effort in the region to assess the effects of infrastructure development.

Keywords: Infrastructure Assets, Fiscal Retrenchment, Latin America

JEL Classification: H54, O54

Suggested Citation

Calderon, Cesar A. and Servén, Luis, Trends in Infrastructure in Latin America, 1980-2001 (September 2004). Available at SSRN:

Cesar A. Calderon (Contact Author)

Central Bank of Chile ( email )

Agustinas 1180

Luis Servén

CEMFI ( email )

Casado del Alisal 5
28014 Madrid

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