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How Not to Defend the Revolution: Mark Weisbrot and the Misinterpretation of Venezuelan Evidence

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  • Francisco Rodríguez

    (Department of Economics, Wesleyan University)

Abstract

Mark Weisbrot (2008) has claimed that under the Chávez administration in Venezuela the share of pro-poor spending has increased, inequality has declined, poverty has fallen rapidly, and there has been a massive reduction in illiteracy. All of these conclusions are based on the use of heavily slanted data and on the misinterpretation of the existing empirical evidence. Weisbrot uses estimates of social spending that are upward biased by the inclusion of large infrastructure projects, debt refinancing, and even military spending; his inequality data is distorted by the inexplicable exclusion of households that received no income; his econometric estimates on illiteracy actually show the exact opposite of what he is arguing for. Weisbrot confuses basic economic concepts and offers a bizarre interpretation of events leading up to the 2002 currency crisis. Once one corrects for Weibrot’s biases, the evidence paints a consistent image of an administration that has not effectively prioritized the well-being of the Venezuelan poor.

Suggested Citation

  • Francisco Rodríguez, 2008. "How Not to Defend the Revolution: Mark Weisbrot and the Misinterpretation of Venezuelan Evidence," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2008-001, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wes:weswpa:2008-001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 1997. "What Can New Survey Data Tell Us about Recent Changes in Distribution and Poverty?," The World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 11(2), pages 357-382, May.
    2. María Antonia Moreno & Francisco Rodríguez, 2006. "Plenty of Room? Fiscal Space in a Resource Abundant Economy," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2006-022, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
    3. Mark Weisbrot, 2008. "An Empty Research Agenda: The Creation of Myths About Contemporary Venezuela," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2008-10, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
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    1. Mark Weisbrot, 2008. "How Not to Attack an Economist (and an Economy): Getting the Numbers Right," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2008-13, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

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