By Javier Corrales
Where will Latin America will be further behind than ever.
be 25 years from now? Latin America will register the larg-Mo s t c o m m e n t a t o r s , 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 lo w-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-
Mind the Gap
ture with less growth: less than
previously, less than most other de- here is growing consensus veloping regions of the world will among development special- experience, andlessthanmost Latin Tists that prosperity requires
Americans will expect. both competent states and com-
getty/RobeRt HaRding WoRld imageRy
For the past 30 years, Latin Amer- petitive markets. In Latin America,
ican economies have been under- most countries have neither. More
performing relative to most other precisely, countries exhibit uneven
regional economies. Even during the levels of state and market develop-fast-growth 2000s, almost every re- ment simultaneously.
gion in the world except Africa grew Latin Americans have not fully
faster than Latin America. According grasped the problem of uneven state
to economic historian Angus Mad- development. The right argues that
dison, even if the world returns to Latin American states aresuffocating;
the good years of the 2000s, Latin the left that states are too feeble to
American economies by the 2030s bring about real change. Both views
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