Structures, Endowments, and Institutions in the Economic History of Latin America

Coatsworth, John H.

This essay first reviews what economic historians take as their key dependent variables, that is, the productivity of economies and the welfare of the people who make them work. We know much more now than we did only a decade or so ago about the evolution of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and changes in living standards over the past several centuries. Second, it touches on the subject that Joseph Love addresses at greater length in his contribution to this issue, namely, the rise and fall of structuralism and related macrohistorical approaches to understanding the determinants of Latin America's relative economic backwardness. Third, it takes a look at some of the most interesting recent efforts to restart discussion and debate on the same macro-level issues that preoccupied the structuralists and their offshoots and critics. Finally, as is customary, the concluding section brews up a stew of unanswered questions, well-intentioned speculation, and gratuitous advice.

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Latin American Research Review

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University of Texas Press
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June 8, 2015