Pacific Pumas

As the United States and Europe continue to fight long term stagnant economic growth amid crushing national debts, another region is shining bright. Latin America, an area once referred to as the “development of underdevelopment,” has emerged from the global financial crisis as a model of growth for emerging markets. A group of Latin American countries managed to not only survive the financial instability that rocked global markets, but actually grow during this period, and the World Bank forecasts that the region’s economy will grow 4.5 percent this year.  This regional success was fueled by a block of countries in Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Columbia, dubbed the ‘Pacific Pumas’, which have positioned themselves through sound policy and open trade to become drivers of Latin American economic growth in the burgeoning Pacific markets.

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African Growth: the Role of Demographics and Urbanization

It may be hard to imagine that population growth in Africa could do anything but exacerbate the continents current issues with food shortages and infectious disease.  But according to Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, Africa’s high population growth may propel Africa’s economy forward.

The continent has a young median age of 19.7 and the predicted population growth rate hints that this median may stay low for years to come. Since 2000, Africa’s population has increased from 200 million to 1 billion and the predicted average population growth rate is 2.2 %, compared to .9 % in Asia. The young and large consumer base and workforce in Africa may be just what some African countries need to kick-start their economies. Continue reading

Winning the War on Malaria: Part One

Distribution of malaria by country.

Malaria is one of the greatest challenges facing developing nations. Each year, there are an estimated 300-500 million new cases of malaria, killing 1.2 million. It is a disease that disproportionately affects the poor in countries with tropical and sub-tropical climates, with most cases reported in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The direct costs to individuals and governments for treating malaria have been estimated at $12 billion per year. If the indirect costs were considered, it would be many times greater due to lost wages, productivity, and economic growth.

Global spending to prevent and control malaria has amounted to $5.5 billion annually, a large amount given by official development assistance agencies in Europe and the U.S. Lately, however, there has been a growing role for Public-Private Partnerships such as The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and the Medicines for Malaria Venture. Philanthropic organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Exxon Mobil have made large contributions to malaria control efforts as well. Continue reading

A Chile Front Sweeps Through Latin America

Since May of this year, students have consistently gathered in Santiago’s main square to protest the cost of higher education, demanding more government assistance to afford expensive private universities throughout the country.

Student Protestors in Chile | Source: AP

Chile’s history has been tumultuous, to say the least. However, a fairly stable economy and an established financial sector have developed, allowing Chile to experience remarkable growth compared to other Latin American countries.

Despite this, not everyone in Chile has been reaping the benefits of economic growth. As recently as 2006, during the presidency of Michelle Bachelet, high school students demanded “free use of public transport, lower fees for college entrance exams and a voice in government policy.” This caused quite a disruption in Chile’s day-to-day activities and implied that the hands-off, laissez-faire model of earlier economic reforms left something to be desired. While Bachelet attempted to meet their demands, apparently the reforms were not deep enough to overhaul the education system entirely and overcome socioeconomic divides. Continue reading

The Lassie of Development: Growing Pet Care Markets in Latin America

A new wave of globalization has hit Latin America: more pets are signaling rising incomes and as a result, growth in the pet care industry. The Economist featured an article that describes the changes in Latin American culture as a result of higher incomes. With more money for basic needs, consumers are looking at pets for their next big purchase.

But, who can really draw the line at food and shelter? The article notes that the industry is, in part, growing from pet-salons, pet grooming, pet accessories, you name it:

In the past five years spending on pet food and knick-knacks has risen by 44%, to $11 billion, according to Euromonitor, a market-research firm, which estimates that Chile has more pet dogs per person than any other country.

Part of the appeal of pets, more specifically the demand for dogs in Latin American countries, is their role as a status symbol. They represent a disposable income that previously did not exist, and so the amount of care for one’s dog translates to symbols of class and wealth. However, with the global economy in almost constant flux, there are two potential roles for the expanding pet care market in emerging countries. The first, and more positive, outcome would be that incomes continue to rise and allow for consistent spending and innovation within the pet care industry. The second result would cause the pet care industry to contract if incomes in the emerging economies decrease. If the latter occurs, the sustainability of the pet care industry might be in jeopardy, as the Pet Food Institute maintains that the cost of inputs for pet food are on the rise and susceptible to market fluctuations.  Continue reading

Methods of Development | A Move Towards Holistic Poverty Evaluations

We all know that nations cannot be defined purely by their GDP. And so we know that poverty, also, cannot solely be defined by income. Rather, there is a move to include a variety of indicators within the discussion of poverty, allowing new ideas and new objectives to influence action and policy. The Hudson Institute hosted an event this week entitled Latin America: Poverty, Radicalism, Market Economy? Moderated by Ambassador Jaime Daremblum, the speakers included Mauricio Rodas, John Hammock, and Andrew Natsios, and the event focused on new poverty indices. The Ethos Poverty Index (which we previously blogged about here) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) focus on different poverty indicators than the most commonly used indicator of changes in income levels. They also demonstrate an effort to address Amartya Sen’s idea of capabilitiesContinue reading

AVINA + IDB = Latin America Donor Index

Philanthropic giving is easy, right? But what about philanthropic giving that makes a difference? Slightly more difficult, right? Not so with the development of the Latin America Donor Index. The child of AVINA and the Inter-American Development Bank’s Office of Outreach and Partnerships, the Latin America Donor Index allows nonprofit groups throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to search for other groups with similar goals in order to pool funding. They can connect with 547 donors interested in the LAC region and unite in their giving efforts—directly targeting a chosen cause.

Source: Latin America Donor Index

The focus on collaboration in giving is significant in a world where the effectiveness of aid projects is constantly questioned. One of the main purposes of the Index is to note the philanthropic actors in Latin America and gauge the amount of money distributed from North America, Europe, and Latin America itself.  According to the IDB, the Latin America Donor Index includes private donors and multilaterals such as “foundations, corporate giving programs, international nongovernmental organizations, development agencies and local not-for-profit organizations with subvention programs.” However, the uneven distribution of sizes of the organizations included in the LAC donors may not be as effective at yielding collaborative ventures, especially if motivations behind their donations are different. In addition, while a wide range of organizations certainly provides more opportunities for partnerships, it may indirectly encourage small donors to attempt to partner with larger donors instead of focusing on the potential of small donor-to-donor coalitions.  Continue reading