2010/21 LEM Working Paper Series

On the Latin American Growth Paradox: A Hindsight into the Golden Age

Giorgia Barboni and Tania Treibich
Growth; Development; Convergence; Factor Analysis; Latin America;Economic History; Golden Age.

  JEL Classifications
N26, O54, C38

In 1950, Latin American countries capabilities were promising, and the subcontinent was thought to have a big potential for convergence. In order to understand why this prediction was not fullled, we apply in this paper the framework set by Fagerberg and Srholec (2008). Our study of the economic evolution of Latin America during the Golden Age (1950-1975) is based on historical data on economic, political and social variables from 18 countries. We use a factor analysis to classify our 20 indicators into ve dimensions: the level of "industrialization", "human capital", the "macroeconomic fundamentals", "politics" and "religion". We nd that only the quality of human capital and the presence of Roman Catholics signicantly and positively aected Latin American economic growth in this period, while the determinants traditionally put forward in the empirical growth literature, such as technical change and openness, did not. Finally, the positive correlation between the religion and education variables reveals that this result is partly related to the role of the Catholic Church as an educational institution.

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