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Distribution and growth in Latin America in an era of structural reform

  • Morley, Samuel A.
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    The first section of this paper reviews the most recent evidence on inequality in 18 Latin American countries and shows that in all but four the changes in inequality over the 1990s were small and nsignificant. The distribution depends on the ownership and rate of return on assets, particularly human capital. In the short run changes in these two variables tend to be offsetting-growth widens skill-differentials which is regressive, but advances in education are progressive. The two effects roughly cancel each other out absent severe macroeconomic shocks or revolutionary changes in the rules of the game. The paper then summarizes various recent papers as well as the author's recent work on the impact of structural reforms on inequality. That work shows that the recent reforms have had a negative but small regressive impact on inequality mainly because many of the individual reforms had offsetting effects. Trade and tax reform have been unambiguously regressive, but opening up the capital account is progressive. Finally, the paper presents evidence of a significant slowdown in the growth rate and argues that given this fact and the insensitivity of the distribution to feasible policy measures, the main problem facing the region at present is not how to improve the distribution but rather how the increase the growth rate.

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    File URL: http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/tmdp66.pdf
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    Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series TMD discussion papers with number 66.

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    Date of creation: 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:fpr:tmddps:66
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    1. Eduardo Lora, 1997. "Una década de reformas estructurales en América Latina: ¿Qué se ha reformado y cómo cuantificarlo?," Research Department Publications 4075, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    2. Wood, Adrian, 1995. "North-South Trade, Employment and Inequality: Changing Fortunes in a Skill-Driven World," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290155, March.
    3. repec:idb:brikps:66098 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 1999. "A Data Set on Income Distribution," CEMA Working Papers 575, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
    5. Nancy Birdsall & Juan Luis Londoño, 1997. "Asset Inequality Does Matter: Lessons from Latin America," Research Department Publications 4066, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    6. Miguel Székely & Marianne Hilgert, 1999. "What's Behind the Inequality we Measure: An Investigation Using Latin American Data," Research Department Publications 4188, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    7. Eduardo Lora & Gustavo Márquez, 1998. "The Employment Problem in Latin America: Perceptions and Stylized Facts," Research Department Publications 4114, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    8. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1996. "Globalization and Inequality Past and Present," NBER Working Papers 5491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Miguel Székely & Marianne Hilgert, 1999. "What's Behind the Inequality We Measure: An Investigation Using Latin American Data," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6458, Inter-American Development Bank.
    10. Nancy Birdsall & Juan Luis Londoño, 1997. "Asset Inequality Does Matter: Lessons from Latin America," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6426, Inter-American Development Bank.
    11. Suzanne Duryea & Miguel Székely, 1998. "Labor Markets in Latin America: A Supply-Side Story," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6439, Inter-American Development Bank.
    12. Klaus Deininger & Lyn Squire, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 512, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
    13. Jere R. Behrman & Nancy Birdsall & Miguel Székely, 2003. "Economic Policy and Wage Differentials in Latin America," Working Papers 29, Center for Global Development.
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