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  • Author: Barbara Kotschwar
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In Latin America, inadequate transportation infrastructure has been identified as an increasingly important impediment to the region's further integration in global trade and a significant factor preventing countries from properly taking advantage of the multitude of regional, plurilateral, and bilateral trade agreements signed in the past decade and a half. This paper examines transport and communications infrastructure initiatives in Latin American and Asian regional trade arrangements and finds several lessons Asia can teach Latin America.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Communications, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez, José Luis Guasch, Veronica Gonzales
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Over the last decade, Central American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—have made significant progress in social and economic areas. In particular, they have stabilized their economies after decades of civil war and the economic volatility that plagued the region through the 1990s. Most countries in Central America have taken important steps to improve their business climates, particularly by enhancing macroeconomic stability, improving the soundness of their financial systems, making improvements in infrastructure services and trade facilitation, reducing red tape, and simplifying their regulatory and tax frameworks. As a result, before the 2008 financial crisis, GDP per capita in Central America grew at an average rate of 3 percent per year from 2003 to 2008, which, albeit modest, was the most robust and stable period of growth the region had witnessed since the early 1990s. However, despite this achievement, Central American economies are still lagging behind the rest of Latin America and other middle-income countries by per-capita growth rates of 0.5 to 2 percentage points. Even more worrying are the levels of poverty and inequality, which show the lack of inclusiveness in their growth models. Moreover, recent developments in the region show a number of red flags that are weakening macroeconomic and democratic stability. Significant structural changes are urgently needed to secure sustained and inclusive growth.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Timothy A. Wise
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University
  • Abstract: More than 40% of U.S. corn is now consumed in the production of ethanol. With the United States by far the world's largest producer and exporter of corn, this represents an estimated 15% of global corn production. A recent survey by the National Academy of Sciences estimated that globally biofuels expansion accounted for 20 - 40% of the price increases seen in 2007 - 8, when prices of many food crops doubled. This had a dramatic impact on poor consumers and on net - food - importing developing countries. Expanding U.S. production and consumption of corn - based ethanol, which has been encouraged by a range of U.S. government subsidies and incentives, is considered one of the most important biofuel programs in putting upward pressure on food prices. Mexico now imports about one - third of its corn from the United States. Using conservative estimates from a study on U.S. ethanol expansion and corn prices, we estimate the direct impacts of U.S. ethanol expansion on Mexican corn import costs. We find that from 2006 - 2011, U.S. ethanol expansion cost Mexico about $1.5 billion due to ethanol - related corn price increases. Other methodologies suggest the costs could be more than twice as high, surpassing $3 billion over the period.
  • Topic: Security, Agriculture, Development, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Food
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Graciana del Castillo, Daniel García
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: An analysis of trends in foreign direct investment (FDI) in Uruguay is difficult due to data problems. Nevertheless, balance-of-payments data reveal that inward FDI (IFDI) increased sharply in the second half of the decade 2002-2011 under analysis. IFDI flows relative to GDP rose annually on average to close to 6% in 2005-2011. This compares favorably with annual average flows of only 1% in the decade before the banking crisis and the sharp devaluation of the Uruguayan peso in 2002. At the time, investment in natural resources, including in farmland and real estate in Punta del Este, became very attractive. IFDI flows peaked at 7.5% of GDP in 2006, with the investment in the construction of the first cellulose plant in the country by a multinational enterprise (MNE) from Finland. The rapid increase in IFDI in the second half of the past decade took place amid high rates of economic growth (averaging about 6% a year on average), in combination with an adequate policy and regulatory framework and fiscal incentives to foreign investors. So far, Uruguay remains primarily a host country for FDI, with outward FDI (OFDI) that has been and continues to be insignificant.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Katherine E. Bliss, Paulo Buss, Felix Rosenberg
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: On November 7, 2011, the Global Health Policy Center of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., in partnership with the Fiocruz Center for Global Health (CRIS) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, hosted a seminar entitled “New Approaches to Global Health Cooperation.” The event, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, assembled health policy researchers and practitioners from Brazil, Europe, the United States, and sub - Saharan Africa to examine emerging practices in global health co operation. Issues considered included the factors driving greater international engagement on public health challenges, the growing trend of trilateral cooperation, and the role of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and South - South activities in expanding international cooperation on global health. Over the course of the day - long meeting, speakers and audience members examined the reasons for the overall expansion of funding and programming for overseas global health activities durin g the past decade; considered the factors that underpin Brazil's increasing focus on global health as an area of bilateral and multilateral outreach; reviewed the characteristics of successful trilateral cooperation efforts; and debated the future of multi country engagement on health.
  • Topic: Development, Emerging Markets, Health, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, United States, China, Europe, Washington, India, South Africa, Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Eduardo Posada-Carbó
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: By focusing on its electoral role, this paper revises some of the prevailing views regarding the Catholic Church's impact on the politics of Colombia between 1830 and 1930. To this aim, the paper offers a brief general overview of the Church during the period, in an attempt to locate its sources of power. Then, I look at the place the religious cleavage had in the formation of the party system that emerged in the republic by the mid-nineteenth century. Next, I examine the various ways in which the Church was involved in the electoral process both before and after the emergence of the party system. Finally, the concluding section considers the wider implications that such involvement might have represented for the history of democracy in Colombia. Overall, the paper addresses the following questions: What had the historical role of the Catholic Church been in the politics of Colombia since independence? How did the Church—the hierarchy, the clergy and the laity—relate to the electoral history and partisan divisions of the country? And to what extent did the involvement of the Church in electioneering enhance or hinder the process of democratization over this century?
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Author: Manuel Alcántara
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper addresses from a comparative perspective the national elections (legislative and presidential) held between 2009 and 2011 in seventeen Latin American countries. There are five key issues that guide this analysis: the institutional conditions of electoral competition, the electoral offer, election results, party systems, and post-electoral executive-legislative relations. The political consequences of these electoral processes—except perhaps in the cases of Honduras and Nicaragua, where some minor negative trends have arisen—reveal a pattern of apparent normality and political alternation, with a change in the presidential elite and winning proposals that were articulated via institutions. The paper concludes by outlining how countries in the region have successfully overcome challenges of a varying nature and importance, that until recently generated a degree of uncertainty in their respective political systems.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Nicaragua, Honduras
  • Author: Matthew C. Ingram
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Existing research shows that the ideas of judges matter for judicial behavior both on the bench (decision making) and off the bench (lobbying and mobilization for institutional change). Yet there is little empirical evidence regarding the content and distribution of these ideas and even less evidence and fewer theoretical propositions regarding the manner in which ideas transfer or diffuse among judges. Addressing these empirical and theoretical gaps, I survey judges in the Mexican state of Michoacán and apply techniques of network analysis. The project makes four main contributions: (1) original data on the attitudes of judges regarding prominent institutional and jurisprudential changes shaping the legal landscape in Mexico; (2) egocentric data on network structure for the sampled judges; (3) sociocentric data on network structure at the level of judicial district, state supreme court, and entire state generated by aggregating the egocentric data; and (4) a mixed-methods analysis of the causal relationship between network features and judicial attitudes, drawing on egocentric methods, sociocentric methods, and personal interviews with focal individuals. Complementing literatures on political socialization, policy diffusion, and complex systems, the analysis clarifies our understanding of the role of judicial networks in strengthening democracy and the rule of law.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Political Economy, Governance, Law Enforcement, Law
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Nora Lustig, Luis F. Lopez-Calva, Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Between 2000 and 2010, the Gini coefficient declined in 13 of 17 Latin American countries. The decline was statistically significant and robust to changes in the time interval, inequality measures, and data sources. In-depth country studies for Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico suggest two main phenomena underlie this trend: a fall in the premium to skilled labor and more progressive government transfers. The fall in the premium to skills resulted from a combination of supply, demand, and institutional factors. Their relative importance depends on the country.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Argentina, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We apply a standard tax-and-benefit-incidence analysis to estimate the impact on inequality and poverty of direct taxes, indirect taxes and subsidies, and social spending (cash and food transfers and in-kind transfers in education and health). The extent of inequality reduction induced by direct taxes and transfers is rather small (2 percentage points on average), especially when compared with that found in Western Europe (15 percentage points on average). What prevents Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil from achieving similar reductions in inequality is not the lack of revenues but the fact that they spend less on cash transfers—especially transfers that are progressive in absolute terms—as a share of GDP. Indirect taxes result in that net contributors to the fiscal system start at the fourth, third, and even second decile on average, depending on the country. When in-kind transfers in education and health are added, however, the bottom six deciles are net recipients. The impact of transfers on inequality and poverty reduction could be higher if spending on direct cash transfers that are progressive in absolute terms were increased, leakages to the nonpoor reduced, and coverage of the extreme poor by direct transfer programs expanded.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Health, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Argentina, Latin America, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia