World Bank Latin American and Caribbean Studies

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This regional flagship series features major development reports from the Latin America and Caribbean region unit of the World Bank. They aim to enrich the debate on the major development challenges and opportunities the region faces as it strives to meet the evolving needs of its people. Titles in this series undergo extensive internal and external review.

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    Natural Resources in Latin America and the Caribbean : Beyond Booms and Busts?
    (World Bank, 2011) Sinnott, Emily ; Nash, John ; de la Torre, Augusto
    Throughout, the history of the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, natural resource wealth has been critical for its economies. Production of precious metals, sugar, rubber, grains, coffee, copper, and oil have at various periods of history made countries in Latin America-and their colonial powers-some of the most prosperous in the world. In some ways, these commodities may have changed the course of history in the world at large. Latin America produced around 80 percent of the world's silver in the 16th through 19th centuries, fueling the monetary systems of not only Europe, but China and India as well. The dramatic movements in commodity markets since the early 2000s, as well as the recent economic crisis, provide new data to analyze and also underscore the importance of a better understanding of issues related to boom-bust commodity cycles. The current pattern of global recovery has favored LAC so far. Countercyclical policies have supported domestic demand in the larger LAC economies, and external demand from fast-growing emerging markets has boosted exports and terms of trade for LAC's net commodity exporters. Prospects for LAC in the short term look good. Beyond the cyclical rebound, however, the region's major longer-run challenge going forward will be to craft a bold productivity agenda. With LAC coming out of this crisis relatively well positioned, this may well be possible, especially considering that the region's improved macro-financial resiliency gives greater assurance that future gains from growth will not be wiped out by financial crises. In addition, LAC has been making significant strides in the equity agenda and this could help mobilize consensus in favor of a long overdue growth-oriented reform agenda. But it remains to be seen whether the region will be able to seize the opportunity to boost long-run growth, especially considering the large gaps that LAC would need to close in such key areas as saving, human capital accumulation, physical infrastructure, and the ability to adopt and adapt new technologies.
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    Low Carbon, High Growth : Latin American Responses to Climate Change - An Overview
    (World Bank, 2009-01-01) de la Torre, Augusto ; Fajnzylber, Pablo ; Nash, John
    Based on analysis of recent data on the evolution of global temperatures, snow and ice covers, and sea level rise, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently declared that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal." Global surface temperatures, in particular, have increased during the past 50 years at twice the speed observed during the first half of the 20th century. The IPCC has also concluded that with 95 percent certainty the main drivers of the observed changes in the global climate have been anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gases (GHG). While the greenhouse effect is a natural process without which the planet would probably be too cold to support life, most of the increase in the overall concentration of GHGs observed since the industrial revolution has been the result of human activities, namely the burning of fossil fuels, changes in land use (conversion of forests into agricultural land), and agriculture (the use of nitrogen fertilizers and live stock related methane emissions).
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    Beyond the City: The Rural Contribution to Development
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2005) de Ferranti, David ; Perry, Guillermo E. ; Foster, William ; Lederman, Daniel ; Valdés, Alberto
    Beyond the City evaluates the contribution of rural development and policies to growth, poverty alleviation, and environmental degradation in the rest of the economy, as well as in the rural space. This title brings together new theoretical and empirical treatments of the links between rural and national development. New findings and are combined with existing literature to enhance our understanding of the how rural economic activities contribute to various aspects of national development. The study is based on original research funded by the World Bank's Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean. Of particular relevance is the interaction between agricultural and territorial development issues. The empirical findings also make substantial contributions to the debate over the appropriate design of public policies aiming to enhance the rural contribution to national development, including economic growth, poverty reduction, environmental sustainability, and macroeconomic stability.
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    Closing the Gap in Education and Technology
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003) De Ferranti, David ; Perry, Guillermo E. ; Gill, Indermit ; Guasch, J. Luis ; Maloney, William F. ; Sanchez-Paramo, Carolina ; Schady, Norbert
    This report focuses not only on the gaps facing Latin America in both education and technology, but especially on the interactions between the two. The central premise of the report is that skills and technology interact in important ways, and this relationship is a fundamental reason for the large observed differences in productivity and incomes across countries. This report argues that skills upgrading technological change, and their interaction are major factors behind total factor productivity growth. Skill-biased technological change is indeed being transferred today at faster speeds to LAC countries, as elsewhere. Technological change has been complementary with skill levels in Latin America in the last two decades. It is further estimated that firms have substantially increased the demand for educated workers in the region, particularly workers with tertiary education. This technological transformation appears to be intimately related to patterns of integration in the world economy. Firms in sectors with higher exposure to trade are subject to more competitive pressures. Adopting and adapting more advanced technologies and hiring and training more educated workers is one way to respond to this pressure to become more productive. The increased potential demand for education offers the possibility to accelerate productivity growth in the economy by closing the educational and technological gaps that Latin American countries exhibit with respect to their peers.
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    From Natural Resources to the Knowledge Economy : Trade and Job Quality
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2002) de Ferranti, David ; Perry, Guillermo E. ; Lederman, Daniel ; Maloney, William E.
    The study questions whether, after a decade of remarkable progress in trade reform, Latin America and the Caribbean really integrates into the global market, offering a promising rapid growth, and good jobs for its workers. For despite the incidence of the loosely called "knowledge economy", the concern prevails that most countries' rich natural resources, still are the determining factor for exports. Policy recommendations include fostering openness to trade, market access, and foreign direct investment flows, in addition to building human capital, institutions, and public infrastructure, without disregarding the natural advantages. To this end, policymakers should aim at developing educational systems that provide quality education, focused on lifelong learning, and training activities to build human capital. Emphasis should follow on research and development (R&D) incentives, and innovations systems, arguing that countries should experiment with taxation incentives, and subsidies to promote both private, and public investments in R&D, (dependent on the institutional capacity of governments to enforce tax laws, and monitor the quality of investments). Moreover, evidence in this report, suggests that information, and communications technology (ICT) can reduce coordination costs, enabling an effective industrialization, and market access.