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Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018) Messina, Julian ; Silva, JoanaWhat 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(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( 2016-07-20) Vakis, Renos ; Rigolini, Jamele ; Lucchetti, LeonardoOne 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(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016-05-19) Chioda, LauraOver 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.