Central America

·         Nicaragua: Despite Economic Growth, Poverty Remains High & Basic Consumer Goods Are Becoming More Costly  
During 1995, the economy experienced a 4% increase in GDP.  But other figures suggest that the economy is underutilizing
human and natural resources.  Production of basic goods and services is down, while the quantity of imports and prices for
those goods are rising.  At the same time, massive unemployment and a shift of population from agricultural zones to urban
areas has placed a heavy burden on social services.  As wages remain static, the basic basket of goods and services is
receding from the reach of a majority of Nicaraguans. 

·        Poverty, Corruption, & Slow Demilitarization Process Still Threaten Governability in Central America Opening the
economy to foreign trade and investment has been accompanied by the import of the consumer-driven economic
model of the advanced industrialized countries.  Yet Central American governments have not been able to deliver on
the promised consumer economy.  For the most part, isthmian governments have paid little attention to this phenomenon
and thereby risk the political backlash from frustrated rising expectations.  They have focused instead on electoral
democracy, holding out the promise of prosperity in the long term through the slow process of capital accumulation,
development of export-led production, and competitive trade through a disciplined, flexible work force.

·        Structural Adjustment and the Spreading Crisis In Latin America Stabilization and adjustment programs pushed on countries badly in need of international financing have, in some cases, helped to tame inflation and effect some measure of economic growth, albeit usually uneven and unsustained. In almost all cases, however, they have depressed wages, undermined rural livelihoods, increased poverty, and further concentrated income. Nowhere have the polarization of society and the unsustainability of this economic model been so vivid as in Mexico, which became overly dependent on imports and foreign capital while sacrificing the development of its own local productive capacity.  Focus on the cases of Bolivia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, and Nicaragua. 

·        Inter-American Development Bank Documents. 

o       Decentralization and Recentralization: Lessons from the Social Sectors in Mexico and Nicaragua By Alec Gershberg, Aug 1998. This study is designed to help practitioners prepare and evaluate institutional reforms for education and health programs. The framework uses the concept of accountability to link the broad goals of reform to the key dimensions of organizational arrangements. The case studies, based on fieldwork in Mexico and Nicaragua, demonstrate a wide variety of available policy instruments. Significantly, they also demonstrate that the responses to these instruments are equally various: creative interpretation of central regulations by local officials, self governing schools that complement public funds with resources mobilized by fees, the reassertion of national control over previously decentralized health programs. 


·        Latin American Labor Ministers Analyze Retraining Programs to help Workers Survive in the Global Economy At the
tenth Inter-American Conference of Labor Ministers, held in October 1995 in Argentina under the auspices of the
Organization of American States (OAS), the regional ministers formed a special coordinating commission to prepare
conferences and seminars on changing conditions in the Latin American labor market.  The commission--headed by
Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama, and Uruguay—held its first symposium, "The future of the labor
force, productive modernization, adaptation, and professional development," Aug. 22-23 in Costa Rica.Participants
at the conference provided a dismal overview of the impact of market reforms on the regional labor force. Efforts by
nearly every Latin American country to scale back the public sector, promote private investment as the motor force
for development, and open domestic economies to foreign competition have ushered in profound changes in the labor

·         The Informal Economy in Latin America.  Definition, Measurement, and Policies By Alejandro Portes and Richard
Shauffler (December 1992)  The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the informal sector in Latin America.
We will review the major efforts to define the informal sector, to explain its origins, to estimate its relative size, and to
specify the articulation between formal and informal activities.  We will also discuss the role of public policy and its
bearing on the growth or contraction of informal enterprise with a particular focus on Mexico, in light of the impending
North American Free Trade Agreement.    

·        ILO Documents.  The International Labor Organization brings governments, workers and employers together to promote human rights in the workplace, create jobs and improve working conditions.  It is associated with the United Nations. 

·        Inter-American Development Bank Documents. 

o       A Review of the IDB Experience in Low-Cost Housing By Eduardo Rojas, December 1995.  This document contains the results of a review of the recent experience of the IDB in low-cost housing. This experience derives from three loans approved in 1992 and 1993 to support housing investment in Paraguay (PR/683-OC and PR/884-SF), Uruguay (UR/735-OC and UR/736-OC), and Chile (CH/771-OC). In response to Government policies, the loans in reference departed from previous Bank practice prompting a revision of the housing policy as embodied in the Urban Development Policy (OP-751). The review was undertaken by DPP/POL as part of the activities leading to the amendment of OP-751 and is complementary to other documents prepared by PRA and DPL during the discussions preceding the drafting of the proposed amendment. 

o       Apertura, Reforma y Mercado de Trabajo: La experiencia de una década de cambios estructurales en el Perú By Carmen Pagés-Serra, Mar. 1999.  “Openness, Reform and Labor Market: The Experience of One Decade of Structural Changes in Peru” examines the situation of labor in Peru.   The author argues that there is evidence of a deep transformation of the labor market during the 1990s. The growth of employment, greater capacity for re-employment for displaced workers, and the fall in formality rates suggest that the Peruvian market has become more efficient.  However, there are several challenges for the future: in spite of the high increase of employment, the increase of the size of the labor market has not helped decrease unemployment. 

·        World Bank Documents