Book Chapter
Recent Distributive Changes in Latin America

An Overview

The recent decline of inequality in Latin America has taken many by surprise. The region has long been entrenched in an unequal distribution of assets, incomes and opportunities, limited or no redistribution by the state and authoritarian regimes enforcing an unjust status quo. The causes were to be found in the high concentration of land, human capital, credit, production opportunities and political power in the hands of a tiny oligarchy. However imperfect, the Latin American policy experience in the aftermath of its redemocratization may be of interest to developing countries facing a political transition or recording rises in income inequality and social tensions in spite of rapid economic growth. The recent Latin American experience is valuable, showing inequality can be reduced under open economy conditions and in a period of intensifying global integration if a new policy model is adopted.