Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap Between Latin America and the United States

Francis Fukuyama, Editor Oxford University Press, USA $29.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-19-536882-6
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'.
Reviewed on: 08/04/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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