Here is an excellent primer for readers in search of an accessible, comprehensive, and balanced review of contemporary Latin American economic development in a global context. Twenty-one contributors analyze 14 critical drivers of national competitiveness, including central issues such as macroeconomics, education, and technology but also capturing such indirect variables as water systems, judicial reform, and public safety. The many weighty topics are lightened by fluid prose and enlivened by startling facts: only 14 percent of the region's roads are paved, and most English-language classes start in seventh grade with but two hours of instruction per week. Among the expert authors are Mauricio Carrizosa (taxes), Luis Guasch (regulatory agencies), Linn Hammergren (judiciaries), Peter Knight (technology), Jeff Puryear (education), Christopher Sabatini (labor), and Lee Tablewski (infrastructure). Cumulatively, the volume offers a refined sense of the learning by doing and the diffusion of successes that are occurring throughout the region. The bottom line: Latin America is progressing but still not fast enough to stay abreast of East Asia or eastern Europe. To speed smart reforms, the key is to forge domestic coalitions powerful enough to overcome the resistance of recalcitrant vested interests.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.
More Reviews on Western Hemisphere From This Issue