Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap Between Latin America and the United States

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Francis Fukuyama
Oxford University Press, Aug 11, 2008 - Political Science - 336 pages
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In 1700, Latin America and British North America were roughly equal in economic terms. Yet over the next three centuries, the United States gradually pulled away from Latin America, and today the gap between the two is huge. Why did this happen? Was it culture? Geography? Economic policies? Natural resources? Differences in political development? The question has occupied scholars for decades, and the debate remains a hot one. In Falling Behind, Francis Fukuyama gathers together some of the world's leading scholars on the subject to explain the nature of the gap and how it came to be. Tracing the histories of development over the past four hundred years and focusing in particular on the policies of the last fifty years, the contributors conclude that while many factors are important, economic policies and political systems are at the root of the divide. While the gap is deeply rooted in history, there have been times when it closed a bit as a consequence of policies chosen in places ranging from Chile to Argentina. Bringing to light these policy success stories, Fukuyama and the contributors offer a way forward for Latin American nations and improve their prospects for economic growth and stable political development. Given that so many attribute the gap to either vast cultural differences or the consequences of U.S. economic domination, Falling Behind is sure to stir debate. And, given the pressing importance of the subject in light of economic globalization and the immigration debate, its expansive, in-depth portrait of the hemisphere's development will be a welcome intervention in the conversation.

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Falling behind: explaining the development gap between Latin America and the United States

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Fukuyama (The End of History) has compiled essays which collectively dispel the myth that "vast cultural difference or the consequences of U.S. domination" are solely responsible for the economic ... Read full review


1 Introduction
The Historical Context
The Politics of Underdevelopment in Latin America
Institutional Factors in Latin Americas Development

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About the author (2008)

Francis Fukuyama is Professor of International Political Economy in the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

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