IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

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

in new window

Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
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
Note: EFG
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Tito Boeri & J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Vincenzo Galasso, 2006. "The Political Economy of Flexicurity," Working Papers 2006-15, FEDEA.
  2. Rafael La Porta & Florencio López-de-Silanes, 1997. "The Benefits of Privatization : Evidence from Mexico," World Bank Other Operational Studies 11583, The World Bank.
  3. Parente, Stephen L. & Prescott, Edward C., 2005. "A Unified Theory of the Evolution of International Income Levels," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 21, pages 1371-1416 Elsevier.
  4. Smith, Adam, 1776. "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number smith1776.
  5. Hopenhayn, Hugo & Rogerson, Richard, 1993. "Job Turnover and Policy Evaluation: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(5), pages 915-38, October.
  6. Holmes, Thomas J. & Jr., James A. Schmitz, 2001. "A gain from trade: From unproductive to productive entrepreneurship," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 417-446, April.
  7. Rodríguez, Francisco & Rodrik, Dani, 1999. "Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Sceptic's Guide to the Cross-National Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2143, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Luzio, Eduardo & Greenstein, Shane, 1995. "Measuring the Performance of a Protected Infant Industry: The Case of Brazilian Microcomputers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(4), pages 622-33, November.
  9. Federico Sturzenegger & Ernesto Schargrodsky & Sebastian Galiani & Paul Gertler, 2003. "The Costs and Benefits of Privatization in Argentina: A Microeconomic Analysis," Research Department Publications 3148, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  10. Garcia, Patricio & Knights, Peter F. & Tilton, John E., 2001. "Labor productivity and comparative advantage in mining:: the copper industry in Chile," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 97-105, June.
  11. Davis, Steven J & Haltiwanger, John C, 1992. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction, and Employment Reallocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 819-63, August.
  12. Ricardo J. Caballero & Kevin Cowan & Eduardo M. R. A. Engel & Alejandro Micco, 2004. "Effective labor regulation and microeconomic flexibility," Working Papers 04-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  13. Peter Klenow & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 1997. "The Neoclassical Revival in Growth Economics: Has It Gone Too Far?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 73-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. James A. Schmitz, Jr. & Arilton Teixeira, 2008. "Privatization's Impact on Private Productivity: The Case of Brazilian Iron Ore," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(4), pages 745-760, October.
  15. Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Barriers to Riches," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661306, June.
  16. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
  17. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Government Ownership of Banks," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(1), pages 265-301, 02.
  18. Thomas J. Holmes & James A. Schmitz, 1995. "Resistance to new technology and trade between areas," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-17.
  19. Rigobon, Roberto & Rodrik, Dani, 2004. "Rule of Law, Democracy, Openness and Income: Estimating the Interrelationships," CEPR Discussion Papers 4653, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Martin Neil Baily & Robert M. Solow, 2001. "International Productivity Comparisons Built from the Firm Level," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 151-172, Summer.
  21. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  22. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A, 2004. "Institutions as the Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 4458, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  23. Fernando Alvarez & Robert E. Lucas, 2005. "General Equilibrium Analysis of the Eaton-Kortum Model of International Trade," NBER Working Papers 11764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Herrendorf, Berthold & Teixeira, Arilton, 2003. "Monopoly Rights can Reduce Income Big Time," CEPR Discussion Papers 3854, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  25. James Heckman & Carmen Pages, 2003. "Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean," NBER Working Papers 10129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Prescott, Edward C, 1998. "Needed: A Theory of Total Factor Productivity," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(3), pages 525-51, August.
  27. Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
  28. Lutz Hendricks, 2002. "How Important Is Human Capital for Development? Evidence from Immigrant Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 198-219, March.
  29. Edward C. Prescott & Stephen L. Parente, 1999. "Monopoly Rights: A Barrier to Riches," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1216-1233, December.
  30. William Easterly, 2002. "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550423, June.
  31. Thomas J. Holmes & James A. Schmitz, 1994. "Resistance to technology and trade between areas," Staff Report 184, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  32. José E. Galdón-Sánchez & James A. Schmitz Jr., 2002. "Competitive Pressure and Labor Productivity: World Iron-Ore Markets in the 1980's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1222-1235, September.
  33. Aydin, Hamit & Tilton, John E., 2000. "Mineral endowment, labor productivity, and comparative advantage in mining," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 281-293, October.
  34. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross & DEC, 1994. "Capital fundamentalism, economic development, and economic growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1285, The World Bank.
  35. Parente, Stephen L & Prescott, Edward C, 1994. "Barriers to Technology Adoption and Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 298-321, April.
  36. Simeon Djankov & Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, . "The Regulation of Entry," Working Paper 19462, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  37. Michael A. Clemens & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2002. "Closed Jaguar, Open Dragon: Comparing Tariffs in Latin America and Asia before World War II," NBER Working Papers 9401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  38. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  39. Peter J. Klenow & Mark Bils, 2000. "Does Schooling Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1160-1183, December.
  40. Benjamin R. Bridgman & Igor D. Livshits & James C. MacGee, 2004. "For Sale: Barriers to Riches," University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute Working Papers 20043, University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute.
  41. Cozzi Guido & Palacios Luis-Felipe, 2003. "Parente and Prescott's Theory May Work in Practice But Does Not Work in Theory," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-7, August.
  42. Robert J. Barro, 1989. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 3120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  43. Andy Neumeyer & Hugo Hopenhayn, 2004. "Latin America in the Twentieth Century: Stagnation, then Collapse," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 326, Econometric Society.
  44. Loayza, Norman & Palacios, Luisa, 1997. "Economic reform and progress in Latin America and the Caribbean," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1829, The World Bank.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11008. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.