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Volume 55 / Social Sciences


CLAUDIO SAPELLI, Economist, World Bank

ALTHOUGH IN THE MAKING FOR SOME TIME, there has been a noticeable change in the Uruguayan economic literature during this biennium: it has grown in volume, quality and coverage - both in the depth and breadth of topics addressed. For instance, there has been a surge of microeconomic studies and many of them use modern techniques of empirical analysis. And, although there is a wide variety of topics covered in this chapter, two themes stand out: MERCOSUR and human resources (from an analytic rather than a descriptive perspective). The MERCOSUR Treaty - signed in Asunción, Paraguay on March 26, 1991 among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay - established a common market composed of all four countries, as of Jan. 1, 1995. As a result of this agreement, which opened Uruguay to competition from the efficient Brazilian industrial sector, much attention has been focused on the challenges of integration. The literature has centered on the analysis of: 1) costs and benefits of a complete opening to regional competition (items bi 93024981 and bi 93025020); 2) the need for modernization of the industrial sector (item bi 93025030); and 3) the call to improve human resources and the operation of the labor market (item bi 93024976).

Among the considerable literature analyzing Uruguay's trade with Argentina and Brazil, many papers of analytical value have been excluded because of their narrow objectives. Unfortunately, many Uruguayan works are often not useful as references for further research since there appears to be a lack of discussion among Uruguayan authors who write on similar topics. Therefore, the literature is often repetitive and framed in response to foreign authors, rather than formulated on behalf of a more useful, healthy, and explicit domestic debate within Uruguay itself.

Writings on the economy of Paraguay are scant and are mostly descriptive as noted in previous HLAS volumes. Topics parallel those in Uruguay, e.g., the challenge of MERCOSUR (item bi 94010629) and the issue of human resources, expecially the poor and, in particular, the rural poor. However, most studies that appear under standard economic titles are really sociological or philosophical discussions with very limited analysis of empirical evidence. Consequently, this chapter includes very few works.

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