Call for Papers
IV Meeting of the
Political Economy Network

Cartagena, Colombia, September 26-27, 2002

Politics and Economics in LAC at the turn of the Millennium
Towards understanding the interactions between political institutions and economic policies

The politico-economic scenario of the 1980s and (even more so) of the 1990s in most of Latin America was dominated by a market-oriented reform movement, fostered by international financial institutions. For a while it seemed clear that the reform process was moving forward, in some countries faster than in others. A few years ago the biggest concern seemed to be that the “first generation reforms” were not yielding all of their expected returns because some “second generation reforms” were missing. This second generation was supposed to be more institutional in nature.

At the turn of the millennium, the outcome of the reform process and of other developments in the region is mixed. Recent and on-going events indicate that in some countries there is a distinct chance of nostalgia prevailing, with the possible return to previously discarded market-unfriendly policies. The twin risks of “neoliberal simplification” and “irrational backlash” seems to characterize the current debate in some Latin American countries.

Of particular interest is that at the same time that economic reforms have come into question, broad segments of the population and of the intelligentsia are demanding “political reforms.” The understanding of the effects of political institutions (now under scrutiny for reform) on public policies is still rudimentary. Except for a relatively small number of scholars, political scientists who master the details of politics generally do not evaluate public policies with the metrics more close to the economists’ heart.  In some cases they do not even relate politics and political institutions to public policies, but more to some procedural objectives, such as participation, accountability and the like. The tremendous important of those objectives notwithstanding, we believe that a deeper understanding of the way in which politics and its rules (political institutions) matter for policies is a must. On the other hand, economists pay lip service to the importance of political institutions, and/or use highly abstract models of political economy, which are then mapped to a few empirical variables used for cross-national econometric analysis.  This work turns out to be of little help for thinking seriously about political institutions and political reforms in concrete situations.

The Political Economy Group of LACEA was created precisely to attempt to build the interdisciplinary bridges which might help us better understand the performance of polities and economies, and the details of the workings of specific institutions and policy frameworks in specific polities. In its Fourth Meeting, to take place in Cartagena (Colombia) on September 26-27, we will attempt to foster a better understanding of the ways in which the workings of political institutions impact on the properties of economic and other policies. The political institutions we will focus on include legislatures, courts, political parties, executives, the institutions of federalism and the workings of the public service. Studies of specific Latin American countries as well as comparative institutional analyses are specially welcome. 

This workshop is possible thanks to a grant provided by LACEA to Universidad de los Andes, in order to support the Political Economy Network. The funds come from the Regional Consortia capacity building program financed by the World Bank’s Development Grant Facility. Roberto Steiner and Mauricio Cárdenas (Universidad de Los Andes) and Mariano Tommasi (Universidad de San Andrés and Center of Studies for Institutional Development) will organize the workshop.  In addition to two invited papers by well-known international scholars, we expect to have ten additional papers, determined through a competitive selection process. The organization has some funds to partially finance travel expenses of those participants not able to obtain complete funding from their own sources.

If you are interested in submitting a paper, please do so no later than July 26, 2002.  The selection process will be completed by August 16, 2002. Strict compliance with the submission deadline is necessary in order to apply for financial support.

Papers should be sent to:
Roberto Steiner
Facultad de Economía
Universidad de Los Andes
Cra. 1E N° 18ª-10
Bogotá, Colombia
Tel. (571)3412240
Fax (571)2815771

Electronic submissions are encouraged.