Article

A Historical Perspective on the Political Economy of Inequality in Latin America

Rosemary Thorp

in The Oxford Handbook of Latin American Political Economy

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199747504
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199747504.013.0006

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 A Historical Perspective on the Political Economy of Inequality in Latin America

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  • Labour and Demographic Economics
  • Economic Development and Growth

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This article explores the historical evolution of the political economy of inequality. It evaluates how and why inequality appears so deeply embedded and so extreme in the Latin American case. It considers inequality within countries, and finds that a significant part of the story, though by no means all, turns on inequality between Latin America and the international economy. Three main arguments are presented. First, that inequality is often functional for growth—supportive of the particular growth path, even constructed at times to facilitate the growth path. Second, that a balanced analysis has to explore fully both the “initial conditions” beloved of recent institutional economics and the process: the interactions over time between domestic and international forces, and within the elements of the domestic economy and polity itself. Third, that it is crucial to look beyond income inequality, to all aspects of inequality—social, political, ethnic, racial, gender—as well as economic.

Keywords: political economy; income inequality; history; international economy

Article.  8219 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Labour and Demographic Economics ; Economic Development and Growth

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