Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Latin American Structuralist Ideas about Economic Development. A brief reflection

Schclarek Curutchet Alfredo , CONICET and National University of Córdoba, Argentina

From the origins of the political economy, and according to the historical context in which they wrote, economists have always raised the issue of economic growth. However, its relevance in economic theories acquired more strength in the second part of the 20th century. It is clear that the importance of this subject throughout history has varied significantly, but Neoclassical, Marxist, Keynesian and almost every economist, regardless of the economic school to which they have adhered, has made reference at some point to this problem. In particular, in Latin America, the concept of development have been very important. In 1948, the creation of the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) emerged within the framework of “third world” countries’ difficulties to develop their economies. One of its central objectives is to contribute to economic development of Latin America. ECLAC’s activities encouraged the development of a special theoretical view that is usually known as "Latin American Structuralism", which constitutes a very important contribution to the "Development Economics." In recent times, Latin America has been experiencing a difficult time for its political systems and its economies. The crises that have erupted show that the region's problems are far from being resolved. With the specificities of each country, the problems of the slowdown in economic growth and increasing inequality, among others, have become relevant issues. Although some countries have demonstrated relatively "successful" processes, the reappearance of difficulties has been widespread. This article begins with a brief description of the historical context in which Latin American Structuralism arises. In the following section, the ideas on economic development of the three most important structuralists are briefly presented (Prébisch, Furtado and Sunkel). Finally, we offer some final reflections on the issue together with a description of the evolution that their ideas have had.


Keywords: Development Economics, ECLAC, Prébisch, Furtado, Sunkel

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