Latin America's Decline: A Long Historical View [report]

Sebastian Edwards
2009 unpublished
In this paper I analyze Latin America's very long term economic performance (since the early 18th century), and I compare it with that of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the countries of Western Europe. I begin with an analysis of long term data and an attempt at determining when the region's decline really began. The next section deals with the relation between the strength of institutions since colonial rule and the region's economic performance. Next I move to an analysis of
more » ... in America's long history with instability, crises and debt defaults. I show that currency collapses have been a staple of the region's economic history. In the Section that follows I analyze the long term evolution of social conditions, including poverty and income inequality. This analysis shows that a high degree of income disparity and poverty have a long history in the region. The paper ends with an analysis of the way in which Latin American intellectuals and scholars have seen the increasing economic and income gap with the United States and Canada. Economic decline during these five decades was mostly the result of political instability, successive civil wars, and power struggles. In 1878, H. W. Bates, an early observer of South America, wrote: "With but few exceptions the history of these lands, from the time of their severance from the mother country, has been an unbroken succession of intestine wars and lawlessness, attended by every conceivable horror and atrocity." 5 3 See Maddison (2005). Also, see Fukuyama (2008) and the essays collected there.
doi:10.3386/w15171 fatcat:zucsgi5ugfbohivnxhtrrxmo6i