Economic and Social Development in Latin America
Credits: 4 ECTS
This course discusses Latin America’s economic and social performance, focusing on two key features: faltering economic development and persistent inequalities. In particular, it explores the following central propositions: (a) the secular foundations to the standard of living in Latin America are to be found in labour productivity and real wage levels; (b) the lack of convergence with North America and Europe over the long run can be attributed to low levels of capital accumulation (both human and physical); (c) these accumulation and growth problems are related to the relationship with the global economy and the chronic fiscal weakness of the state; and (d) the high degree of income inequality and fluctuations over time are closely related to the evolution of the terms of trade (particularly affecting the top 10% of the distribution) and the skill premiums. The first part of the course introduces the secular trends in living standards, productivity and real wages; documents the key structural transformations (urbanisation, industrialisation and demographic transition), and assess the economic development strategies of state-led industrialisation and export-led growth. The second part deals with income and horizontal inequalities (e.g., related to geography, gender, or race) and examines recent developments in inequality and policy efforts intended to close the social and economic gaps.
Lectures consist on an exposition of the key developments and issues. Students are asked to read beforehand a list of key readings and are encouraged to participate actively during lectures. The final two sessions of the course will be devoted to the discussion of case studies (team work) summarising and assessing recent developments in inequality and social interventions in a Latin American country. The final grade will be a weighted average of the assessment of a presentation of a case study (40% of the total grade), a final essay on a given question (40%), and class participation (20%).