Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap Between Latin America and the United States

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9780195368826: Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap Between Latin America and the United States

In 1700, Latin America and British North America were roughly equal in economic terms. Yet over the next three centuries, the United States gradually pulled away from Latin America, and today the gap between the two is huge. Why did this happen? Was it culture? Geography? Economic policies? Natural resources? Differences in political development? The question has occupied scholars for decades, and the debate remains a hot one.

In Falling Behind, Francis Fukuyama gathers together some of the world's leading scholars on the subject to explain the nature of the gap and how it came to be. Tracing the histories of development over the past four hundred years and focusing in particular on the policies of the last fifty years, the contributors conclude that while many factors are important, economic policies and political systems are at the root of the divide. While the gap is deeply rooted in history, there have been times when it closed a bit as a consequence of policies chosen in places ranging from Chile to Argentina. Bringing to light these policy success stories, Fukuyama and the contributors offer a way forward for Latin American nations and improve their prospects for economic growth and stable political development.

Given that so many attribute the gap to either vast cultural differences or the consequences of U.S. economic domination, Falling Behind is sure to stir debate. And, given the pressing importance of the subject in light of economic globalization and the immigration debate, its expansive, in-depth portrait of the hemisphere's development will be a welcome intervention in the conversation.

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About the Author:


Francis Fukuyama is Professor of International Political Economy in the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Review:


"This volume constitutes one of the most thorough and lucid attempts to answer the fundamental question of why Latin America has become the West's least developed region. It's a must-read for both policymakers and scholars. Bravo and thanks to the authors."--Ernesto Zedillo, Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and former President of Mexico


"This indispensable book ends the debate over why we Latinos are not rich Americans: It's not our culture, religion, intellects, or even the U.S. that keep us behind. It's our defective institutions. So let reform begin. Thanks to Fukuyama and his distinguished colleagues, governments have no more excuses to avoid legal change."--Hernando de Soto, author of The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else


"It is a measure of this book's seriousness that there are no easy recipes in it. Falling Behind makes a valuable contribution to the debate about Latin America."--The Times Literary Supplement


"Provides valuable insights into how both formal and informal institutions have shaped economic and political outcomes in Latin America...this book should be a valuable and timely addition to upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses dealing with the economic challenges facing Latin American and Caribbean countries."--Eastern Economic Journal


"A set of historical essays help us to understand that the development gap with the United States emerged in the first two thirds of the nineteenth century as Latin American societies struggled to form coherent nation-states following independence from Spain and Portugal. ... Francis Fukuyama examines the importance of institutions." --Political Science Quarterly


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