In search of that Holy Grail that is the magic formula to produce economic growth that is at the same time robust and equitable, we started the new decade as we end it: immersed in it, with no clear solution in sight. While it is true that the way advanced it is significant when we look back (thanks to people like the Nobel 2019, Esther Duflo, and their peers), the way forward is as infinite as convoluted.
This is a question particularly important for Latin america, composed by countries that find themselves at various points in the middle of the world ranking: medium-high, in the chilean case, the argentine or costa rican; medium-low in spite of the improvements to others, such as Nicaragua or Bolivia. In addition to important, it has become urgent: this has been stated by the hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of the cities of the continent in the past few months asking, among other things, a better future.
As cleared unknowns in formulas, we find that these are not only big things (infrastructure, investment, capital) but also to less visible aspects. The preferences of the population for certain attitudes, for example, can have an important effect: patience in investments, aversion to take risks on the same, trust in your fellow countrymen, a tendency to altruism, or inclination for the granting of awards and punishments. The German Institute Briq has embarked on the task of trying to put numbers to these concepts through a global survey, which includes more than seventy nations. The results (that place each country on a continuum from -1 to 1 as likely that whether or not their citizens, to each attitude, in comparison with the average of all of them) are as informative as eye-catching.
For example: Mexico is not a country, nor rewarding, nor altruistic, and in fact appears in lower values for each value. In Brazil, by contrast, include both figures on the rest of the region. Venezuela is given to taking risks (something that does not go well, as the country has proven unfortunately with the consequences present of their election policies of the past. And Colombia is not too patient.
But it is when we are confronted with those same values about themselves that begin to emerge, clearer images. For example: although the majority of Latin american countries are rather impatient, some of them incur more risk. And none predominate at the same time, caution and patience, something that would produce patterns of economic decisions presumably stable at the time. No big surprises, neither for good nor for evil.
The nations most trusted tend to be more altruistic, but in Latin america the first condition is remarkably scarce. This is important because without trust and confidence between fellow human beings, altruism becomes presumably at a lever far: don't expect that to translate into solidarity, cooperation, closeness of economic goals to be shared.
finally, there is a noticeable tilt to the prize of citizenship in Latin america, something that indicates a probable belief in justice. But only in its positive aspect: none of the countries of the region tends to the punishment (and in the end, a kind of clearing of the merit-negative). Saving Mexico and Nicaragua, Latin america is essentially great and permissive.
The effect all this has on economic growth and its degree of inclusiveness is not necessarily obvious or direct. Preferences, attitudes channel, more that mould, and the resources available in this or that direction. However, the relationship exists. Note how GDP per capita increases at a rate very similar to that of the inclination of the patient.
This correlation is stronger than the same for the GDP two decades ago, which would point precisely to the above-mentioned channelization: patience and investment channelled growth.
With the inequality, the relationships are less intense, although they behave in accordance with what might be expected: less patience, altruism, trust, and more risk appetite, go with greater inequality.
that Is to say: models of economic behavior based on competitive individualism, in the preference for risky decisions with large potential rewards (but also punishments important) produce societies less egalitarian.
But there is one thing very striking in the graphs of inequality and economic attitudes: in all of them the Latin american countries are above the line that would indicate the mid-point of the relationship. That is to say: Brazil, Chile, Argentina, or Costa Rica have to play a more inequity than that which would be explained by attitudinal factors. There is a whole series of determinants of other type between the income Latin america among themselves. Some until the end. This 'premium Latin american' in the inequality is most clearly seen when we put all the indicators of preference in a single formula, and observe the isolated effect of each one, taking into account the others.
Each extra point of patience on the scale of three positions (-1, 0, +1) reduces on the five points of the Gini coefficient (the difference between the portion with the most and least income of the society), and increases by about $ 30,000 GDP per capita. The propensity to risk has the opposite effect: around 11,000$ less, and up to ten points of inequality (for example: the difference between Spain and Chile). This leaves a message little flattering to those who promote values normally associated with capitalism, risky, disruptive: the slow path seems to harbor the best results.
The inclination to punish and reward, to accompany in addition to the reduction of inequalities, suggesting that a certain degree of justice individualized is good to produce a more balanced world, while altruism has a surprising positive relationship which is likely to be the reverse effect: in universes that are more unequal, we feel more inclined to help the losers of the economic game.
Each society, like each person, is responsible to build their own compass attitudinal. Intimately connected with the moral, what we see here is that the result has consequences not only spiritual, but also likely materials. Latin america begins in 2020 with a profound questioning of the values that have governed the path to economic and social development of the region in recent years. In the light of these data, perhaps it is a good opportunity to redirect the path in a direction more in line with the growing demand of improvements that traverses the continent from north to south.Updated Date: 04 January 2020, 20:00