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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 ofdoi:10.3386/w15171 fatcat:zucsgi5ugfbohivnxhtrrxmo6i