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Privatization in Latin America

  • John Nellis

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    In Latin America, privatization started earlier and spread farther and more rapidly than in almost any other part of the world. More, and larger, firms were sold, and more proceeds were raised. Despite positive microeconomic results, privatization is highly and increasingly unpopular in the region. The core social criticism is that privatization contributes to growing poverty and inequality levels in Latin America—and circumstantial evidence supports the claim. But recent and rigorous studies dilute or counter the negative views, concluding that privatization has contributed only slightly to rising unemployment and in equality, and either reduces poverty or has no effect on it. Still, while privatization may be winning the economic battle it is losing the political war: The benefits are spread widely, small for each affected consumer or taxpayer, and occur (or accrue) in the medium-term. In contrast, the costs are large for those concerned, who tend to be visible, vocal, urban and organized, a potent political combination.

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    File URL: http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/2759
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    Paper provided by Center for Global Development in its series Working Papers with number 31.

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    Length: 32 pages
    Date of creation: Aug 2003
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:31
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.cgdev.org

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    1. Paredes M., Ricardo, 2001. "Redistributive Impact of Privatization and the Regulation of Utilities in Chile," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. J. Luis Guasch & Jean-Jacques Laffont & Stephane Straub, 2003. "Renegotiation of Concession Contracts in Latin America," ESE Discussion Papers 103, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    3. Rafael La Porta & Florencio López-De-Silanes, 1999. "The Benefits Of Privatization: Evidence From Mexico," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1193-1242, November.
    4. Gover Barja & Miguel Urquiola, 2003. "Capitalization, regulation and the poor: access to basic services in Bolivia," Chapters, in: Utility Privatization and Regulation, chapter 9 Edward Elgar.
    5. Sebastian Galiani & Paul Gertler & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2005. "Water for Life: The Impact of the Privatization of Water Services on Child Mortality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 83-120, February.
    6. Chong, Alberto & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio, 2002. "Privatization and labor force restructuring around the world," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2884, The World Bank.
    7. Eduardo Lora & Ugo Panizza, 2002. "Structural Reforms in Latin America under Scrutiny," Research Department Publications 4303, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    8. Torero, Maximo & Pasco-Font, Alberto, 2001. "The Social Impact of Privatization and the Regulation of Utilities in Peru," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Antonio Estache & V. Foster & Q. Wodon, 2002. "Accounting for Poverty in Infrastructure Reform: Learning from Latin America's Experience," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/44108, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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