In This Review

Soft Landing in Cuba? Emerging Entrepreneurs and Middle Classes
Soft Landing in Cuba? Emerging Entrepreneurs and Middle Classes
By Richard E. Feinberg
Brookings Institution, 2013, 62 pp.

Based on interviews with dozens of Cuban small-business proprietors and aided by a sophisticated reading of demographic data, Feinberg’s findings in this monograph discredit the tiresome narrative that there has been little real change in Cuba in recent years. Feinberg reports that “Cuba today is very much host to large and growing middle classes” thanks to new laws and regulations that encourage productive ownership and work not guided by the state. Further, he argues, this change portends a shift in the nature of Cuba’s development, because the new middle classes aspire to a more consumerist lifestyle. Enriched by useful case studies, the monograph concludes with thoughtful policy recommendations for the Cuban government that might facilitate the growth of the nonstate sector and enable Cuba to update its economy while experiencing a “soft landing,” instead of an economic shock. Feinberg also recommends that Washington end its pursuit of regime collapse, which serves to strengthen Cuban hard-liners, and instead pursue initiatives that would support independent entrepreneurs.