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Volume 53 / Social Sciences


STEPHEN M. SMITH, Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics, The Pennsylvania State University

RECENT ECONOMIC LITERATURE for all three countries pays considerable attention to the restructuring, neoliberal, market-oriented economic policies instituted in the 1980s, a trend that also appeared in HLAS 51. A major difference, however, is that with the passing of time these studies have become much more detailed and in-depth, a marked improvement from the general and superficial nature of earlier publications on this theme. Much of this research deals with the impact on specific industrial and social sectors. Below, I have tried to select the most representative and more analytical of these publications, two examples being Bolivia's answer to poverty, economic crisis, and adjustment (item bi 92012694), and "Reestructuración Socioeconómica y Transformaciones Regionales en el Uruguay" (item bi 91010553). The banking and financial sectors during and after the economic crisis of the mid-1980s serve as a sub-focus to this theme of economic restructuring. However, much of the work on these sectors is repetitive and adds little to the field.

Research on the informal economy, mentioned in HLAS 51 as an emerging area of interest, has become a major theme. The publications reviewed below include very interesting research - based both on primary and secondary data - on the labor and business characteristics, the origins, and the impact of informal economic activity. For each country, a limited number of useful agricultural and food studies were also published, studies which tended to emphasize the effects of economic crises and resulting policies.


For Bolivia, the primary theme analyzed was the impact of hyperinflation and the resulting economic readjustment policies. The works reviewed here are a sampling of the most thorough. They include broad analyses of particular policies (items bi 92012694, bi 91010654, and bi 91009121), studies of the effects on manufacturing and its future under a more open market atmosphere (items bi 91010792 and bi 91010628), and an interesting analysis of the effects of the economic crisis on food consumption (item bi 91010781). Another major theme was the informal economy. Two interesting studies on this topic are a conceptual essay (item bi 92003344) and a household survey in the departmental capitals (item bi 91010758). A third main theme was agriculture and the rural economy: an analysis of the Bolivian wheat sector is of general value for developing countries (item bi 92009060), and a study of informal rural credit markets is quite interesting (item bi 90003172). In a major departure from previous years, there were no studies on the mining sector.


The number of publications reviewed here reflects the small quantity available for review, a development which seems to continue the trend noted in HLAS 51. This is disappointing, as I had anticipated many more titles, given the end of the Stroessner period. Perhaps the break has not been significant enough, or not enough time has passed. In stark contrast to the literature on Bolivia and Uruguay, the Paraguayan literature has yet to really analyze the economy or the impacts of government policies. The most solid studies examine the agricultural sector. These include case studies of land conflict and its causes (item bi 91010658), peasant participation in rural development (item bi 91010647), and Brazilian small farmer colonization (item bi 90011765).


The two main themes in the Uruguayan literature were the informal economy and agriculture, with several interesting studies in both areas. Among the former are three that are based primarily on survey data. One uses a clothing manufacturing firm as the context (item bi 92007727), while the other two use interviews with women (item bi 91010660) and households (item bi 91010657) to examine characteristics of the workplace and the workers. One focus of the literature on agriculture is the distributional impact of more open market/freer trade policies on Uruguayan commodity groups and regions (items bi 91010553 and bi 89003166). Two other interesting studies look at the small farm sector using case studies (item bi 93008521) and over 10,000 surveys (item bi 91010777). There are also several well-done studies of the manufacturing sector and a useful bibliography of manufacturing research (item bi 91010646).

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