This eclectic collection brings together leading scholars of economics, social policy, public security, and international relations in sketching the progress and frustrations of Latin American development. The contributors generally advocate incremental approaches that build on previous progress, rather than root-and-branch upheaval. The separate chapters advance sound, if at times exacting, policy recommendations: countries should diversify their higher-quality exports, raise their labor productivity, enlarge their fiscal capacity, target pockets of poverty, bolster their social safety nets to safeguard their emerging middle classes, make their governance and regulatory structures more effective and transparent, and adopt comprehensive crime-fighting strategies. The contributors underplay the overwhelming pressures of population growth and rapid urbanization in some parts of Latin America, as well as the growing aspirations of middle classes that current growth rates will not soon satisfy. In highlighting the shortcomings of Latin American development, some essays inadvertently feed the notion, employed by authoritarian demagogues, that the region’s “unfulfilled promises” are reason enough to dismantle open, democratic capitalist systems. Hard-pressed democratic governments will have to judiciously select their priorities, leaving a lot for future generations to accomplish.
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