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

by Francis Fukuyama
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap Between Latin America and the United States Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap Between Latin America and the United States 4.5 out of 5 stars (2)
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Book Description

August 11, 2008 0195368827 978-0195368826
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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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 disparity between North and South America. In 1700, North and South America had similar per capita income; today, per capita income in Latin America is 20 percent of U.S. figures and more than one-third of the population lives in poverty, a wealth disparity that many authors finger as leading to frequent political turmoil and a weakened rule of law. Most of the essays pit the "Washington Consensus"-the 1990s effort to globalize-against the region's pesky penchant for electing populists, notably Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. Famous for his contention that civilization is moving inexorably toward capitalist liberal democracy, Fukuyama comes nowhere close to making such broad claims about Latin America's evolution here. He dismisses recent comprehensive explanations that take into account geography and technology, but this uneven collection adds little to the argument that Latin America's economic status the exception to the rule, rather than the United States'.
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"This volume constitutes one of the most thorough and lucid attempts to answer the fundamental question of why Latin America has become the West's least developed region. It's a must-read for both policymakers and scholars. Bravo and thanks to the authors."--Ernesto Zedillo, Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and former President of Mexico

"This indispensable book ends the debate over why we Latinos are not rich Americans: It's not our culture, religion, intellects, or even the U.S. that keep us behind. It's our defective institutions. So let reform begin. Thanks to Fukuyama and his distinguished colleagues, governments have no more excuses to avoid legal change."--Hernando de Soto, author of The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else

"It is a measure of this book's seriousness that there are no easy recipes in it. Falling Behind makes a valuable contribution to the debate about Latin America."--The Times Literary Supplement

"Provides valuable insights into how both formal and informal institutions have shaped economic and political outcomes in Latin America...this book should be a valuable and timely addition to upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses dealing with the economic challenges facing Latin American and Caribbean countries."--Eastern Economic Journal

"A set of historical essays help us to understand that the development gap with the United States emerged in the first two thirds of the nineteenth century as Latin American societies struggled to form coherent nation-states following independence from Spain and Portugal. ... Francis Fukuyama examines the importance of institutions." --Political Science Quarterly

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (August 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195368827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195368826
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Francis Fukuyama is Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), resident in FSI's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on issues relating to questions concerning democratization and international political economy. His book, The End of History and the Last Man, was published by Free Press in 1992 and has appeared in over twenty foreign editions. His most recent books are America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, and Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap between Latin America and the United States. His latest book, The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution will be published in April 2011.

Francis Fukuyama received his B.A. from Cornell University in classics, and his Ph.D. from Harvard in Political Science. He was a member of the Political Science Department of the RAND Corporation from 1979-1980, then again from 1983-89, and from 1995-96. In 1981-82 and in 1989 he was a member of the Policy Planning Staff of the US Department of State, the first time as a regular member specializing in Middle East affairs, and then as Deputy Director for European political-military affairs. In 1981-82 he was also a member of the US delegation to the Egyptian-Israeli talks on Palestinian autonomy. From 1996-2000 he was Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Professor of Public Policy at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University, and from 2001-2010 he was Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. He served as a member of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2001-2004.

Dr. Fukuyama is chairman of the editorial board of The American Interest, which he helped to found in 2005. He holds honorary doctorates from Connecticut College, Doane College, Doshisha University (Japan), and Kansai University (Japan). He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Rand Corporation, the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy, and member of the advisory boards for the Journal of Democracy, the Inter-American Dialogue, and The New America Foundation. He is a member of the American Political Science Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Pacific Council for International Affairs. He is married to Laura Holmgren and has three children.

March 2011

Customer Reviews

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Falling Behind contains nine excellent essays exploring different aspects of why Latin America and the United States have different income levels. The key points in those nine essays are nicely summarized in Francis Fukuyama's conclusion, the tenth essay. The authors were well chosen to reflect both Latin American and U.S. perspectives.

I found that some of the arguments were more persuasive than others, especially the time series work that showed much of the loss of relative economic performance occurring during the time when Latin American countries were establishing their governments. That evidence seemed to be the smoking gun that shows that economic development requires stable, effective government.

Of equal interest were the investigations of the factors that don't seem to explain the differences, including religious culture, tropical climate, and disease.

The book is short on prescriptions. But Latin America seems likely to profit from improved government policies for economic development, better educational results, more inclusive two-party politics in democracies, improving security of property rights, making entrepreneurship easier, and avoiding regime changes.

Historical data make it hard to test everything, but I did wonder if geography might not have played a bigger role in falling behind the United States than this book suggests. A lot of the economic development of the U.S. in the early industrial revolution depended on having lots of cotton growing and the raw materials to make steel-based goods that could be inexpensively shipped across the North Atlantic to Europe. Latin America mostly lacked those same resources and access to the European markets at the same time.
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3 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He never falls short August 29, 2008
Great writter amazing book,
You go thru this book as he was talking to you.
I have read most of his books and he always keeps amazing me,amazing knowleadge, great writter.
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