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Volume 57 / Social Sciences


ROBERT PALACIOS, Economist, World Bank

THE ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL TURBULENCE beginning in 1989 set Venezuelan social scientists on a path of criticism toward both public and private spheres that continues in this selection of economic literature. The attack on business practices in Venezuela is the focal point of a series of sectoral studies, the most comprehensive being the IESA-based work (item bi 96010810). Highlights from the series of industry-specific studies include the examination of the textile industry (item bi 96010804) and an analysis of pulp and paper production (item bi 96010798). The analysis of manufacturers provides interesting descriptive data across many sectors which complements the specific industry analyses (item bi 96010812). An insightful account of the early years of the second Pérez Administration connects the critiques of the private and public sectors (item bi 95011930). In particular, the banking crisis, illustrates the Government’s failure as regulator.

Not surprisingly, several studies focus on social policy issues, including housing, nutrition, poverty and labor markets. Housing is well covered in a collection of essays (item bi 97007140), although there is significant variation in the quality of the contributions. Analysis of the labor market and related public programs is provided by two IESA studies (items bi 96010802 and bi 98010771). Empirical work on poverty continues to be weak as evidenced in the scarce data found in the conference proceedings of the Fundación Adenauer (item bi 97007161). The report on nutrition and poverty is a welcome exception (item bi 97007133).

Finally, there have been more studies on decentralization and regional economic development since the political reforms of the late 1980s increased the autonomy of state governors. More broadly, the literature reflects a growing trend in Latin America toward fiscal federalism. Gueron provides a solid case for this trend in the Venezuelan context (item bi 96014796) and regional studies attest to the increasing interest in individual regions as economic entities (items bi 97007151 and bi 97007147).

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