UCL Institute of the Americas


AMER0017: Latin American Economics

Module convenor: Dr Néstor Castañeda

Not running 2020/21

Module description

This module explores contemporary issues and debates in Latin American economics. The objective of this module is to understand the main characteristics of the Latin American economies and identify the structural and institutional factors that constraint economic growth and human development in the region.

The first part of the module examines the most recent economic performance in the region. In the second part of the module, we examine the economic performance of the region under different development strategies, and the consequences of shifting economic ideas on economic policy-making and outcomes. In particular, we focus on the institutional roots of Latin America's underdevelopment, the notion of economic dependency, and the consequences of the neoliberal shift. In the third part of the course, we consider important macroeconomic topics and their impact for social and human development in the region. In particular, we focus our attention to the dynamics of fiscal policy, the evolution of international trade, the dependence on natural resources, and the evolution of labour policies in the region. We also assess the impact of macroeconomic policies on human capital formation and poverty reduction. Finally, we discuss the economic future of the region.

The module is economics based, but students are not required to have any previous background in the subject.

Module outline

Part I: Introduction

1. Latin American economies: recent performance and prospects

Part II: Historical context

2. Historical patterns of industrialization and economic development: state-led industrialization

3. Historical patterns of industrialization and economic development: market liberalization

Part III: Macroeconomics and social development

4. Fiscal policy: spending, debt, and taxation

5. Trade: liberalization, growth, and commodities boom

6. Natural resources and resource curse

7. Foreign Direct Investment

8. Labour policy: employment, wages, and informality

9. Poverty, inequality and social inclusion

Part IV: Conclusion

10. Regional outlook, risks, and policy challenges