LATEST OPINION PIECES
Over the last decade, Latin America and the Caribbean has become increasingly digitalized, with the spread of internet use to roughly three-quarters of the population, a rapid proliferation of smartphones, and the emergence of numerous new digital companies worth over a billion dollars in areas such as commerce and finance. This digital revolution has had […]
The post Digitalizing Public Services to Improve Lives in Latin America and the Caribbean appeared first on Ideas Matter.
Remittances – money sent from migrants working abroad to families in their home countries – are a major source of income for many in Latin American and the Caribbean, representing as much as 20% of the GDP in nations such as El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, and Jamaica. As occurred after the 2008 global financial crisis, […]
The post Why Remittances Soared as the Pandemic Raged appeared first on Ideas Matter.
For decades economists have warned that low levels of public investment in education, health, infrastructure, and security would weaken a country’s economic growth and delay its social development. Unfortunately, that describes many Latin American and Caribbean countries. From 1980 to 2016, public investment in the region grew by almost 10 percentage points slower than in […]
The post Why Don’t Voters Demand More Public Investment? appeared first on Ideas Matter.
Nearly two years into the coronavirus pandemic, electoral democracy continued to do its work at a steady, if sometimes turbulent, pace in the countries of the Latin America and Caribbean region. Amid the pandemic-induced health crisis and economic downturn, the region witnessed about 25 national-level elections or referenda. Public support for democracy in the region […]
The post Tracking the Health of Democracies During the Pandemic appeared first on Ideas Matter.
Social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp are becoming primary channels of political engagement in Latin America. Throughout the region’s democracies, large majorities of adults now report receiving or sharing political information on social networks. Ten years ago, only a tenth did so. The dramatic growth in social media’s political relevance cannot be overemphasized. Its […]
The post Is Social Media Remaking Latin American Elections? appeared first on Ideas Matter.
As the COVID-19 pandemic struck, public sector employees were on the front line, crucial to policies to limit the contagion and alleviate its economic effects. Collaboration—and hence trust—was essential. Whether working in public health agencies or in communications roles, public sector employees had to work together to implement decisions made at the political level. They […]
The post What the Pandemic Revealed about the Role of Trust in Public Sector Performance appeared first on Ideas Matter.
The COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps like no other major event in recent memory, has exposed the synergies as well as the tensions between science and policy. At the start of the pandemic, governments immediately turned to scientists for the data, knowledge, and technology necessary to fight the new virus. Science provided increasing clarity about the rapidly evolving pandemic, however, governments relied on scientific advice to various degrees. The public therefore may […]
The post Science Meets Policy in the Pandemic Response appeared first on Ideas Matter.
Despite two decades of social policies targeting poverty and inequality, Latin America remains one of the most economically unequal regions in the world. Recurrent protests motivated by economic grievances have been a regular reminder of this reality. The ongoing health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately harmed already vulnerable populations, undoing some of […]
The post Can Democracy Reduce Inequality? appeared first on Ideas Matter.
As Latin America registers more than 5.5 million infections and more than 220,000 deaths from Covid-19 in mid-August – currently highest among the regions of world – it becomes important to ask why lockdowns there haven’t been more effective. After all, mobility restrictions have exacted a heavy economic toll, hurting businesses, eliminating jobs, and aggravating […]
The post Have Lockdowns Been Effective in Latin America? appeared first on Ideas Matter.
Daniel Delgado used to have a straightforward bus commute. But with Lima under lockdown due to COVID-19 and infection rates high on public transport, the bus he usually took seemed too risky and slow. As a “guachimán” (security guard) in a building in the San Isidro neighborhood, Daniel had to find an alternative. Working with […]
The post Boosting Urban Mobility in Latin America during COVID-19 Lockdowns appeared first on Ideas Matter.
With the coronavirus pandemic threatening lives and well-being, most governments in Latin America and the Caribbean have imposed strict limits on social interactions to better manage the contagion. After two months under lockdown, however, the toll on the region’s economies is apparent. Nearly half of households report job losses and most businesses have either closed […]
The post Prospering After the Lockdown: A Matter of Trust appeared first on Ideas Matter.
The Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the globe will likely have a deep impact on many developing countries, hitting their economies even harder than those of advanced countries. Its toll, however, is likely to extend far beyond the economy. Developing countries, like those in Latin America and the Caribbean, apart from weaker economies, also have more fragile […]
The post Covid-19: Threats and Opportunities for Democracy appeared first on Ideas Matter.
Is free trade beneficial to Latin America and the Caribbean? Most economists believe it is. Free trade allows countries to specialize in what they do best, developing competitive advantages and leading to greater consumer choice and lower prices. Most citizens seem to agree. An IDB-commissioned poll, included in the cross-regional Latinobarómetro survey, finds popular support […]
The post The Psychology of Support for Trade appeared first on Ideas Matter.
Four decades ago, people in Latin America cheered as one after another dictatorship fell and gave way to democratic systems, with free elections, uncensored expression, and increasingly independent institutions. That transition, a part of the third wave of democratization, transformed Latin America and the Caribbean from a place of oppressive military regimes into the most […]
The post What Can Restore Latin Americans’ Faith in Democracy appeared first on Ideas Matter.
Economic performance has long been considered key to voter behavior. “It’s the economy, stupid,” said a campaign strategist for Bill Clinton, cementing a view that a government’s economic record is what voters care most about. But too much emphasis on the economy may be missing other, no less consequential, factors. A recent study by George Ward […]
The post Does Happiness Sway Elections? appeared first on Ideas Matter.
Boosting skills is essential for entering the ranks of the richest nations. Better education and skills, most economists agree, generate the innovation and productivity that lift countries from middle-income to high-income levels such as those enjoyed by the United States and the wealthiest nations in Europe and Asia. Indeed, along with rule of law and […]
The post What Do Voters Want: Help or Skills? appeared first on Ideas Matter.
When allies of President Horacio Cartes tried to force an amendment through Paraguay’s congress last year to allow him to run for a second term, rioters took to the streets and set fire to Congress, illustrating in particularly dramatic fashion the sharp divisions around term limits. Cartes eventually decided not to run again, but he […]
The post Do Term Limits Benefit Voters? appeared first on Ideas Matter.
Little more than half of the respondents captured in the latest regional survey of Chile-based Latinobarómetro thought democracy was the best form of government – a ten-year low that indicates weakness in Latin America’s democracies. But does this mean citizens are losing their interest in voting, democracy’s most sacred right? In a recently published study, […]
The post How the Right to Vote Sparks Political Interest appeared first on Ideas Matter.
Latin American countries have a history of veering from left to right in economic affairs: from support for state-driven economic development to support for free markets. But a recent survey shows an upswing in ordinary citizens’ enthusiasm for capitalism. And it begs the question as to why and how long-lasting the phenomenon might be. The […]
The post The New Free-Market Fervor in Latin America appeared first on Ideas Matter.
There are countries where there is a great deal of consensus on issues of national importance, and countries where that consensus is lacking, where the population is divided, distrustful of political opponents, and unwilling to compromise. The latter are polarized societies, and their cleavages lead to worse outcomes in a whole gamut of areas, ranging […]
The post How Political Polarization Holds Latin America Back appeared first on Ideas Matter.
A healthy democracy requires widespread voting and an informed electorate. But by those standards many, if not most, democracies are ailing. In the United States, less than 60% of the voting age population turned out to vote in the 2016 presidential elections. Even so, many voters have little idea of the basics of the U.S. […]
The post Can Mandatory Voting Improve Democracy? appeared first on Ideas Matter.
Since the first exchange of a drachma for a vote in Athens more than two-and-a-half thousand years ago, politicians have practiced the well-honed, if crude, art of vote buying. Today their inducements range from liquor, gas and cash in the United States to cash, grain, and washing machines in large parts of Africa, Asia, Latin […]
The post Why Do Politicians Buy Votes? appeared first on Ideas Matter.