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Latin America in the Rearview Mirror

  • Harold L. Cole
  • Lee E. Ohanian
  • Alvaro Riascos
  • James A. Schmitz, Jr.

Latin American countries are the only Western countries that are poor and that aren't gaining ground on the United States. This paper evaluates why Latin America has not replicated Western economic success. We find that this failure is primarily due to TFP differences. Latin America's TFP gap is not plausibly accounted for by human capital differences, but rather reflects inefficient production. We argue that competitive barriers are a promising channel for understanding low Latin TFP. We document that Latin America has many more international and domestic competitive barriers than do Western and successful East Asian countries. We also document a number of microeconomic cases in Latin America in which large reductions in competitive barriers increase productivity to Western levels.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11008.

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Date of creation: Dec 2004
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Publication status: published as Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian & Alvaro Riascos & James A. Schmitz, Jr., 2006. "Latin America in the rearview mirror," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sep.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11008
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