Comparing average growth rates

Structural Adjustment and the Politics of Reform 149

with structural adjustment. In some instances, efforts to implement economic reform were overtaken and greatly complicated by civil and international conflict. Even so, average growth rates have been higher since 1990 than the average rate during the 1980s. Moreover, the last few years have been particu- larly encouraging. African countries have enjoyed their fastest growth since the 1970s, averaging 5.4 percent per year since 2005.

Comparing average growth rates across decades is misleading, however, because such comparisons fail to recognize that some governments have re- formed much more than others. Thus, to get a better appreciation of the im- pact of reforms on long-run growth, we need to control for the variation in reform across countries. Figure 7.2 depicts the relationship between progress on reform and the gain in economic growth between the 1980s and the 1990s. Progress on reform is measured as the change in an index of structural ad- justment developed by researchers at the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). This index summarizes the extent to which national economies are characterized by stable macroeconomic conditions, liberal trade, privatized in- dustries, and flexible labor markets. The higher the score on the index (which ranges from 0 to 1), the closer the country approximates the “neoliberal ideal.” I calculated the change in this index between 1985 and 1995 for each country to measure the extent to which each has moved from ISI toward a neoliberal framework. I then plotted this measure of structural change against the difference between average growth in the 1990s and average growth in the 1980s. Neoliberalism leads us to expect a strong positive relationship between progress on reform and change in growth: Countries that have reformed the

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Change in Economic Growth, 1980s–1990s

4 5 7 0

0.1

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Peru

Trinidad and Tobago

Nicaragua

Bolivia

Argentina

Honduras Chile

Uruguay

Paraguay Ecuador

Guatemala

El SalvadorDominican Republic

Costa Rica

Brazil

VenezuelaColombia

Jamaica

Mexico


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