DP10613 Human Development as Positive Freedom: Latin America in Historical Perspective

Author(s): Leandro Prados de la Escosura
Publication Date: May 2015
Keyword(s): human development, Latin America, life expectancy, positive freedom
JEL(s): I00, N36, O15, O54
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10613

How has Latin America?s wellbeing evolved over time? How does Latin America compare to today?s developed countries (OECD, for short)? What explains their differences? These questions are addressed using an historical index of human development. A sustained improvement in wellbeing can be observed since 1870. The absolute gap between OECD and Latin America widened over time, but an incomplete catching up ? largely explained by education- occurred since 1900, but faded away after 1980, as Latin America fell behind the OECD in terms of longevity. Once the first health transition was exhausted, the contribution of life expectancy to human development declined.