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The Latin American Development Problem: An Interpretation

  • Diego Restuccia

    ()

By international standards, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in Latin America is low: around one fourth of that of the United States. Moreover, in the last five decades, Latin America has failed to catch-up in wealth to the level of the United States while other countries at similar or even lower stages of development have been successful. The failure to attain higher levels of relative income represents what I call the development problem in Latin America. Using a development accounting framework, I find that the bulk of the dif- ference in GDP per capita between Latin America and the United States is accounted for by low GDP per hour and, in particular, low total factor productivity (TFP) in Latin America. I estimate that to explain the difference in GDP per hour, TFP in Latin America must be around 60 percent of that in the United States. I then consider a model with heterogeneous production units where institutions and policy distortions lead to a 60 percent productivity ratio between Latin America and the United States. Removing the barriers to productivity can increase long-run GDP per hour in Latin America by a factor of 4 relative to that of the United States. This increase is equivalent to 70-years worth of post-world-war-II economic development in the United States.

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File URL: http://www.brookings.edu/research/journals/2013/economiaspring2013
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Article provided by LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION in its journal JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA.

Volume (Year): (2013)
Issue (Month): ()
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Handle: RePEc:col:000425:010912
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  1. Jeremy Greenwood & Juan M. Sanchez & Cheng Wang, 2007. "Financing Development: The Role of Information Costs," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 14, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  2. Galindo, Arturo & Schiantarelli, Fabio & Weiss, Andrew, 2007. "Does financial liberalization improve the allocation of investment?: Micro-evidence from developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 562-587, July.
  3. Peter J. Klenow & Mark Bils, 2000. "Does Schooling Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1160-1183, December.
  4. Andrés Erosa & Tatyana Koreshkova & Diego Restuccia, 2010. "How Important Is Human Capital? A Quantitative Theory Assessment of World Income Inequality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1421-1449.
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  7. Veracierto, Marcelo, 2001. "Employment Flows, Capital Mobility, and Policy Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(3), pages 571-95, August.
  8. Todd Schoellman, 2012. "Education Quality and Development Accounting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 388-417.
  9. Raphael Bergoeing & Norman Loayzaw & Andrea Repetto, 2004. "Slow Recoveries," NBER Working Papers 10584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Margarida Duarte & Diego Restuccia, 2006. "The productivity of nations," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 195-223.
  11. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
  12. Hernan J. Moscoso Boedo & Toshihiko Mukoyama, 2011. "Evaluating the Effects of Entry Regulations and Firing Costs on International Income Differences," Virginia Economics Online Papers 379, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  13. Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2014. "Explaining Educational Attainment across Countries and over Time," Working Papers tecipa-507, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  14. Omar D Bello & Juan S Blyde & Diego Restuccia, 2011. "Venezuela's Growth Experience," Working Papers tecipa-431, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  15. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian & Alvaro Riascos & James A. Schmitz, Jr., 2004. "Latin America in the rearview mirror," Staff Report 351, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  17. Margarida Duarte & Diego Restuccia, 2006. "The Structural Transformation and Aggregate Productivity in Portugal," Working Papers tecipa-261, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  18. Finn E. Kydland & Carlos E. J. M. Zarazaga, 2002. "Online Appendix to Argentina's Lost Decade and the Subsequent Recovery Puzzle," Technical Appendices kydland02, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  19. Restuccia, Diego & Urrutia, Carlos, 2001. "Relative prices and investment rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 93-121, February.
  20. Riccardo DiCecio & Levon Barseghyan, 2010. "Entry Costs, Industry Structure, and Cross-Country Income and TFP Differences," 2010 Meeting Papers 964, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  21. repec:bla:restud:v:77:y:2010:i:4:p:1421-1449 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Hendricks, Lutz A., 2002. "How Important is Human Capital for Development? Evidence from Immigrant Earnings," Staff General Research Papers 11409, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  23. James R. Tybout, 2000. "Manufacturing Firms in Developing Countries: How Well Do They Do, and Why?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 11-44, March.
  24. Raphael Bergoeing & Patrick J. Kehoe & Raimundo Soto, 2001. "A Decade Lost and Found: Mexico and Chile in the 1980s," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 107, Central Bank of Chile.
  25. Finn E. Kydland & Carlos E.J.M. Zarazaga, 2001. "Argentina's lost decade," Center for Latin America Working Papers 0401, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  26. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, January.
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