going to look
25 years from
26 Americas Quarterly s p r i n g 2009 A m e r i c A s Q u A r t e r ly . o r g
By Javier Corrales
here will Latin America will be further behind than ever.
be 25 years from now? Latin America will register the larg-
Most com ment ators, est gap with the richest economies
probably with good rea- of the world in its history, and also
son, prefer to focus on lag seriously behind China and Rus-
much shorter time frames. sia, economies that in the 1950s were
But extending the time far poorer than those of Latin Amer-
horizon allows us to see ica (see figure 1).
larger trends shaping the This “less growth” condition, in
region beyond the vola- place since the 1960s, suggests that
tile cycles of changes in government. Latin America is suffering from some
From my perspective, the trends look low-grade fever that refuses to go
troublesome. away. What’s causing this fever? At
Let’s start with economics. By the risk of being too reductionist, I
2034, Latin Americans will be richer propose that the most important
than they are today—but not by cause is the uneven development
much. Latin America does not face of states and markets.
the problem of a no-growth future.
Rather, it faces the problem of a fu-
ture with less growth: less than Mind the Gap
previously, less than most other de- here is growing consensus
veloping regions of the world will among development special-
experience, and less than most Latin ists that prosperity requires
Americans will expect. both competent states and com-
For the past 30 years, Latin Amer- petitive markets. In Latin America,
ican economies have been under- most countries have neither. More
getty/RobeRt HaRding WoRld imageRy
performing relative to most other precisely, countries exhibit uneven