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