Latin American Development Forum

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This series promotes debate and disseminates knowledge and analysis on economic and social development issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. Books in this series discuss economic growth, structural reforms, social security, globalization and its social effects, poverty reduction strategies, macroeconomic stability and capital flows, financial systems and market reforms, and more. Sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the World Bank, the series seeks to convey the excitement and complexity of the most topical issues in the region. Titles in this peer-reviewed series are selected for their relevance to the academic community and represent the highest quality research output of each institution.

Items in this collection

Now showing 1 - 10 of 10
  • Publication
    Wage Inequality in Latin America: Understanding the Past to Prepare for the Future
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018) Messina, Julian; Silva, Joana
    What caused the decline in wage inequality of the 2000s in Latin America? Looking to the future, will the current economic slowdown be regressive? Wage Inequality in Latin America: Understanding the Past to Prepare for the Future addresses these two questions by reviewing relevant literature and providing new evidence on what we know from the conceptual, empirical, and policy perspectives. The answer to the first question can be broken down into several parts, although the bottom line is that the changes in wage inequality resulted from a combination of three forces: (a) education expansion and its effect on falling returns to skill (the supply-side story); (b) shifts in aggregate domestic demand; and (c) exchange rate appreciation from the commodity boom and the associated shift to the nontradable sector that changed interfirm wage differences. Other forces had a non-negligible but secondary role in some countries, while they were not present in others. These include the rapid increase of the minimum wage and a rapid trend toward formalization of employment, which played a supporting role but only during the boom. Understanding the forces behind recent trends also helps to shed light on the second question. The analysis in this volume suggests that the economic slowdown is putting the brakes on the reduction of inequality in Latin America and will likely continue to do so—but it might not actually reverse the region’s movement toward less wage inequality.
  • Publication
    Beyond Commodities: The Growth Challenge of Latin America and the Caribbean
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016-11-02) Araujo, Jorge Thompson; Vostroknutova, Ekaterina; Brueckner, Markus; Clavijo, Mateo; Wacker, Konstantin M.
    Beyond Commodities shows that Latin America and the Caribbean’s growth performance over the last decade cannot be reduced to the commodity boom: growth-promoting reforms that strengthened financial development, increased trade openness and improved infrastructure development also played a significant role and can continue doing so. Based on the econometric analysis of panel data from the 1970-2010 period for 126 countries, the study shows that, while the commodity boom facilitated growth in most of the region, it did not determine it. Domestic pro-growth policies and the maintenance of a sound macro-fiscal framework played a central role in explaining the region’s good performance during last decade. It also shows that new growth “stars” such as Panama, Peru, Colombia and the Dominican Republic emerged during this period. In addition, a benchmarking exercise reveals which policy gaps will lead to the highest potential growth-payoffs for each country and helps identify potential trade-offs. Finally, with the worsening of external conditions, the authors conclude that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have no choice but to turn their attention to domestic drivers to keep growth going, as the structural reforms agenda remains unfinished.
  • Publication
    Left Behind: Chronic Poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean
    (2016-07-20) Vakis, Renos; Rigolini, Jamele
    One out of every five Latin Americans—about 130 million people—have never known anything but poverty, subsisting on less than US$4 a day throughout their lives. These are the region's chronically poor, who have remained so despite unprecedented inroads against poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean since the turn of the century. This book takes a closer look at the region’s entrenched poor, who and where they are, and how existing policies need to change to effectively assist the poor. The book shows significant variations of rates of chronic poverty across and within countries. The book posits that refinements to the existing policy toolkit —as opposed to more programs—may come a long way in helping the remaining poor. These refinements include intensifying efforts to improve coordination between different social and economic programs, which can boost the income-generation process and deal with the intergenerational transmission of chronic poverty by investing in early childhood development. In addition, there is an urgent need to adapt programs to directly address the psychological toll of chronic poverty on people’s mindsets and aspirations, which currently undermines the effectiveness of existing policy efforts.
  • Publication
    Work and Family: Latin American and Caribbean Women in Search of a New Balance
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016-05-19) Chioda, Laura
    Over recent decades, women in Latin America and the Caribbean have increased their labor force participation faster than in any other region of the world. This evolution occurred in the context of more general progress in women’s status. Female enrollment rates have increased at all levels of education, fertility rates have declined, and social norms have shifted toward gender equality. This report sheds light on the complex relationship between stages of economic development and female economic participation. It documents a shift in women’s perceptions whereby work has become a fundamental part of their identity, highlighting the distinction between jobs and careers. These dynamics are made more complex by the acknowledgment that individuals are part of larger economic units—families. As development progresses and the options available to women expand, the need to balance career and family takes greater importance. New tensions emerge, paradoxically made possible by decades of steady gains. Understanding the new challenges women face as they balance work and family is thus crucial for policy.
  • Publication
    Entrepreneurship in Latin America : A Step Up the Social Ladder?
    (Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, 2014) Lora, Eduardo; Castellani, Francesca; Lora, Eduardo; Castellani, Francesca
    This book looks at both the potential and limits of policies to promote entrepreneurship as an important vehicle for social mobility in Latin America and the Caribbean. Who are the region's entrepreneurs? They tend to be middle-aged males with secondary and, often, tertiary education who represent only a small segment of the economically active population in the six countries considered in this book. They come from families in which a parent is, or was, an entrepreneur. In fact, a parent's occupation is more important in the decision to become an entrepreneur than a parent's wealth, income or education. Middle class entrepreneurship tends to dominate the sample in part since this is the majority class in society. However, as a percentage of each social class, entrepreneurship tends to be higher in the upper class, followed by the middle and lower class. Entrepreneurs concentrate in micro enterprises with fewer than five employees. They enjoy greater social mobility than employees and the self-employed, but this mobility is not always in the upward direction. Entrepreneurs face multiple obstacles including stifling bureaucracy, burdensome tax procedures, and lack of financing, human capital, technological skills, and supportive networks. The support of family and friends and a modicum of social capital help cope with these obstacles to entrepreneurship.
  • Publication
    New Century, Old Disparities : Gender and Ethnic Earnings Gaps in Latin America and the Caribbean
    (Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, 2012-09-07) Ñopo, Hugo
    Despite sustained economic growth at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, Latin America and the Caribbean still faces high inequality and weak indicators of well-being among certain population groups. Women, people of African ancestry, and indigenous peoples are often at the bottom of the income distribution. The share of female-headed households rose in the past 20 years. By the beginning of the 1990s, women headed 1.2 percent of complete households (households in which both husband and wife are present) and 79.8 percent of single- head households. This book presents a regional overview of gender and ethnic disparities in labor earnings during this last turn of the century. Latin America and the Caribbean provide a rich environment for studying social inequality, because historical inequalities along gender and ethnic lines persist, despite positive indicators of economic development. The extent of inequality and its probable causes vary widely across the many countries in the region. The book adopts a sophisticated econometric methodology for measuring earnings gaps and applies it consistently across and within countries to measure gender and racial or ethnic differences. The analysis includes a dynamic dimension that sheds light on the evolution of earnings gaps over time. The book offers important insights on economic and political strategies that could be adopted to reduce inequality. The reduction of gender-based segregation in the workplace represents an area in which policy interventions can improve the efficiency of labor markets. Determining whether addressing occupational rather than hierarchical segregation is more effective is one of the areas of policy design to which this book aims to make a contribution. Latin America and the Caribbean is also a racially and ethnically diverse region, with some 400 ethnic groups.
  • Publication
    Measuring Inequality of Opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2009) Paes de Barros, Ricardo; Ferreira, Francisco H.G.; Molinas Vega, Jose R.; Saavedra Chanduvi, Jaime
    Over the past decade, faster growth and smarter social policy have reversed the trend in Latin America's poverty. Too slowly and insufficiently, but undeniably, the percentage of Latinos who are poor has at long last begun to fall. This has shifted the political and policy debates from poverty toward inequality, something to be expected in a region that exhibits the world's most regressive distribution of development outcomes such as income, land ownership, and educational achievement. This book is a breakthrough in the measurement of human opportunity. It builds sophisticated formulas to answer a rather simple question: how much influence do personal circumstances have on the access that children get to the basic services that are necessary for a productive life? Needless to say, producing a methodology to measure human opportunity, and applying it across countries in one region, is just a first step. On the one hand, technical discussions and scientific vetting will continue, and refinements will surely follow. On the other, applying the new tool to a single country will allow for adjustments that make the findings much more useful to its policy realities. And fascinating comparative lessons could be learned by measuring human opportunity in developed countries across, say, the states of the United States or the nations of Europe. But the main message this book delivers remains a powerful one: it is possible to make equity a central purpose, if not the very definition, of development. That is, perhaps, it's most important contribution.
  • Publication
    Does the Investment Climate Matter? Microeconomic Foundations of Growth in Latin America
    (Washington, DC : The World Bank, 2009) Fajnzylber, Pablo; Guasch, J. Luis; López, J. Humberto
    This book aims to fill that gap by using extensive and new firm-level data. It provides an alternative, albeit complementary, approach to previous studies of the determinants of the region's growth performance, which are mostly based on cross-country regressions using aggregate data. This book uses the information contained in enterprise surveys performed in 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries, covering more than 10,000 firms. These data are complemented with information from household surveys, as well as from enterprise surveys performed in other regions of the world. The analysis in this volume covers topics that have also been stressed by other authors, such as the need to make progress in the areas of financial sector development, export promotion, and innovation policy. The book's contribution in this regard is to inform the corresponding policy debates with evidence on the effect of different policy environments on firm performance. Overall this book will contribute to identifying some of the underlying factors that are driving Latin America's lackluster growth performance. In particular, objective is to improve our understanding of the policies that could have a larger influence on increasing growth and productivity in the region, by means of improving the environment in which firms invest and operate.
  • Publication
    Natural Resources : Neither Curse nor Destiny
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2007) Lederman, Daniel; Maloney, William F.
    This volume studies the role of natural resources in development and economic diversification. It brings together a variety of analytical perspectives, ranging from econometric analyses of economic growth to historical studies of successful development experiences in countries with abundant natural resources.
  • Publication
    Globalization and Development : A Latin American and Caribbean Perspective
    (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003-09) Ocampo, José Antonio; Martin, Juan; Ocampo, José Antonio; Martin, Juan
    This book is organized as follows: Chapter 1) Globalization: a Historical, Multidimensional - Perspective. Chapter 2) International Trade and the New Global Production - Structure. Chapter 3) The International Mobility of Capital and Labor. Chapter 4) Inequalities and Asymmetries in the Global Order. Chapter 5) An Agenda for the Global Era