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Before the global economic crisis began in 2008, all countries in Latin America, long known as the world’s most economically and financially volatile region, had experienced five consecutive years of economic growth, a feat that had not been achieved since the 1970s. Yet despite this growth, Latin America’s income-per-capita gap relative to high-income countries and other emerging-market economies widened, and poverty remained stubbornly high. Latin America, in short, suffered from growing pains even when things were going reasonably well.
What policies could help Latin America avoid these pains and achieve accelerated, sustained growth that reduces poverty and inequality? To find out, CGD senior fellow Liliana Rojas-Suarez convened a task force to identify the foundations of growth in the region. Prominent experts in Latin America were then invited to apply this framework to five very different countries by assessing past reform efforts and offering practical suggestions for the future. The task-force framework and the subsequent case studies form the book Growing Pains in Latin America: An Economic Growth Framework as Applied to Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru.