Skip to main content

The Decline of Latin American Economies

Growth, Institutions, and Crises

Latin America’s economic performance is mediocre at best, despite abundant natural resources and flourishing neighbors to the north. The perplexing question of how some of the wealthiest nations in the world in the nineteenth century are now the most crisis-prone has long puzzled economists and historians. The Decline of Latin American Economies examines the reality behind the struggling economies of Argentina, Chile, and Mexico.

A distinguished panel of experts argues here that slow growth, rampant protectionism, and rising inflation plagued Latin America for years, where corrupt institutions and political unrest undermined the financial outlook of already besieged economies. Tracing Latin America’s growth and decline through two centuries, this volume illustrates how a once-prosperous continent now lags behind. Of interest to scholars and policymakers alike, it offers new insight into the relationship between political systems and economic development.


"The papers . . . are almost uniformly excellent. Their authors are a distinguished group. Chances are if you’re interested in Latin America, you will learn something new."

Richard J. Salvucci | EH.Net

"The papers are well-written and of high analytical quality. . . . The various authors are generally successful in making the transition from empirical research to understandable and logical conclusions. This is certainly a strong point of the book: it makes high-level empirical analyses accessible to policy makers/"

Matthew Q. McPherson | Eastern Economic Journal

Table of Contents

Sebastian Edwards, Gerardo Esquivel, and Graciela Márquez

I. Economic Growth, Taxation, and Institutions

  1. When Did Latin America Fall Behind?
       Leandro Prados de la Escosura

  2. Before the Golden Age: Economic Growth in Mexico and Portugal, 1910-1950
       Pedro Lains

  3. Inequality and the Evolution of Institutions of Taxation: Evidence from the Economic History of the Americas
       Kenneth L. Sokoloff and Eric M. Zolt

II. Financial Crises, Lending, and Inflation

  4. Financial Crises, 1880-1913: The Role of Foreign Currency Debt
       Michael D. Bordo and Christopher M. Meissner

  5. The True Measure of Country Risk: A Primer on Interrelations between Solvency and the Polity Structure of Emerging Markets, Argentina 1886-1892
       Gerardo della Paolera and Martín Grandes

  6. Related Lending: Manifest Looting or Good Governance? Lessons from the Economic History of Mexico
       Noel Maurer and Stephen Haber

  7. Sudden Stops and Currency Drops: A Historical Look
       Luis A. V. Catão

  8. Establishing Credibility: The Role of Foreign Advisors in Chile’s 1955-1958 Stablization Program
       Sebastian Edwards

III. Protectionism and Economic Performance

  9. Some Economic Effects of Closing the Economy: The Mexican Experience in the Mid-Twentieth Century
       Gerardo Esquivel and Graciela Márquez

  10. The Political Economy of Protectionism: The Mexican Textile Industry, 1900-1950
       Aurora Gómez-Galvarriato

Author Index
Subject Index

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press