Latin American Economic Outlook 2019

Development in Transition

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Latin America and the Caribbean has seen a remarkable socio-economic progress since the beginning of the century. Countries strengthened their macroeconomic situations, living standards improved, and poverty and inequality declined. Yet, large structural vulnerabilities remain and new ones have emerged. Many of these are linked to countries’ transition to higher income and development levels. The Latin American Economic Outlook 2019: Development in Transition (LEO 2019) presents a fresh analytical approach to the region’s development trajectories. It assesses four development traps relating to productivity, social vulnerability, institutions and the environment. It outlines local opportunities for responding to these traps and seeks ways of improving the interactions and interlinkages between global public goods and national development agendas, all in the context of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. LEO 2019 calls for improving domestic capacities and adopting a new vision of international co-operation as a facilitator to support efforts to achieve sustainable development for all throughout the region.

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Special feature: The Caribbean small states

This chapter offers a brief diagnosis of economic, social, environmental and institutional challenges in the Caribbean and suggests possible policy actions to address them. First, it reviews key economic issues related to the lack of competitiveness, trade deficits and the region’s high debt-to-GDP ratio, which in turn reduces its fiscal space and public investment. The following section evaluates the lag in social investment and the need to tackle poverty and inequality, youth unemployment, poor education, lack of social protection, better health and social care, ageing demographics and gender disparities. This chapter also describes the environmental vulnerability of the Caribbean, due to its geo-ecological characteristics, population distribution and economic activity, and analyses challenges related to climate change adaptation, water resources and solid waste management, energy transition and sustainable transportation. The institutional situation is also assessed by exploring the content of development plans and problems regarding access to grants and concessional resources because of the graduation of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Both local and global actions play a role to overcome these challenges and ensure higher inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

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