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Volume 63 / Social Sciences


MARĶA AMPARO CRUZ-SACO, Professor of Economics, Connecticut College

THE SCHOLARLY WORK ON PERUVIAN ECONOMICS reviewed here addresses critical economic themes from structural obstacles to socioeconomic development to emerging opportunities for the promotion of productive activities. Economists and other social scientists agree that a combination of appropriate public sector interventions with technological change, innovation and renovation forces in the private sector, civil society, and NGOs can create a convergence of actions to spur economic growth and social development in the country.

A salient group of contributions by prominent Peruvian scholars, one fourth of those reviewed here, assesses the current socioeconomic dilemmas as outcomes of a succession of historical processes that need to be fully understood. In their view, this is a prerequisite for policies and collective actions that can render more equity and higher living standards. Jürgen Schuldt proposes to transition from a natural-resource-based export economy to one that organizes production and distribution of goods and services in a manner that satisfies the needs and wants of the Peruvian people (item #bi2006002812#). The issues of affirming national identity and understanding the cultures of peasant forms of production in Peru are discussed in item #bi2006002809#. In their 6-volume contribution, Ordóñez and Sousa are also concerned with how culture and values affect socioeconomic trajectories (item #bi2006002837#). They propose changes in cultural paradigms to overcome the domination, concentration, and exclusion that hinder development. The needed technological changes and innovation to promote development through productivity increases, particularly in manufacturing, are carefully analyzed in item #bi2006002803#. Kuczynski Godard and Ortiz de Zevallos propose 25 specific targets to begin the economic transformation toward productive growth and the creation of jobs (item #bi2006002820#). The set of economic policies that would enable implementation of the above-mentioned proposals are finely discussed in Hnyilicza (item #bi2006002817#). Robles Freyre (item #bi2006002802#) and García (item #bi2005005037#) analyze macroeconomic relationships between key economic variables and the unavoidable need to raise productivity in the tradables sector, respectively. Two studies, on fisheries (item #bi2006002841#) and agriculture (item #bi2006002805#), examine sector-specific characteristics and suggest actions for increased production.

The next group is represented by contributions that examine employment, poverty, the role of small- and medium-sized enterprises, the informal sector, and proposals to create jobs and eliminate poverty. One third of all contributions fall in this group. Yamada provides an excellent balance on the state of knowledge concerning the labor market and identifies areas that require additional research (item #bi2006002816#). The Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática (item #bi2006002836#) and Herrera and Hidalgo (item #bi2005001379#) analyze the level of unemployment and income insecurity at the national level and in Lima, respectively. The role of small- and medium-sized enterprises and their structure and needs for financial services, microfinances, and informal activities are analyzed in items #bi2006002825#, #bi2006002802#, #bi2006002848#, and #bi2006002843#. The lack of productive employment and the high instability of it when it does exist will push individuals into poverty. A number of contributions discuss the magnitude of poverty at the national level, in the rural areas, and how agricultural workers cope with a stagnant demand for labor (items #bi2006000384#, #bi2005001384#, #bi2006002823#, and #bi2006002842#).

A third group is represented by authors who analyze the economic and financial conditions affecting international trade and foreign investment. Abugattas et al. examine the evolution of the industrial sector in a context of trade liberalization and participation in trade agreements (item #bi2006002818#); Fairlie et al. estimate the effective protection and how it compares to Andean countries and the impact of a flat tariff (item #bi2006002810#); and Rodríguez et al. model the impact of a free trade agreement with the US on the level of activity and the external and fiscal balances (item #bi2006002811#). Finally, Araoz et al. analyze the evolution of foreign investment in the 1990s and identify barriers for an increased inflow (item #bi2006002830#).

Contributions in the area of regulation and privatization form the fourth group. Bonifaz (item #bi2006002840#) and the volume edited by Fernández-Baca (item #bi2006002808#) explain the role of regulation and the case studies of electricity distribution, transmission of communication signals, water, and sewage. Torero Cullen analyzes the economic performance of privatized firms vis-à-vis other private and state-owned firms (item #bi2006002827#). A final group is represented by studies on the financial sector and pension system reform. Fernández-Baca presents a comprehensive study on money, banking, and the financial sector that can be used as a textbook in advanced undergraduate and introductory graduate courses (item #bi2006002838#). Castro (item #bi2006002833#) and Marthans (item #bi2006002846#) examine the evolution of the financial sector in the 1990s. Morón and Carranza conduct a review of a decade of pension reform (item #bi2006002801#).

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