Restoring Growth in Puerto Rico: Overview and Policy Options

Brookings Institution Press
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As a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico enjoys the benefits of key U.S. legal, monetary, security, and tariff systems, and its residents are U.S. citizens. In the decades following World War II, Puerto Rico emerged as one of the world's fastest-growing economies. From 1950 to 1970 per capita income nearly doubled as a percentage of the U.S. average, making the island the richest economy in Latin America. Since the mid-1970s, however, labor force attachment has declined, economic growth has slowed, and the island's living standards have fallen further behind those on the mainland. Today more than half of all Puerto Rican children live below the U.S. poverty level. Why did Puerto Rico's economic progress stall? And more important, what can be done to restore growth? A number of overlapping concerns—labor supply and demand, entrepreneurship, the fiscal situation, financial markets, and trade——are at the heart of its economic difficulties. This is a companion volume to Restoring Growth: The Economy of Puerto Rico (Brookings, 2006), in which economists from Puerto Rico and the United States examine the island's economy and propose strategies for sustainable growth. This monograph summarizes the analyses published in that volume and presents a set of policy recommendations to increase employment, improve education, upgrade infrastructure, and fix government finances. Contributors include James Alm (Georgia State University), Barry P. Bosworth and Gary Burtless (Brookings Institution), Susan M. Collins (Brookings Institution and Georgetown University), Steven J. Davis (University of Chicago), María E. Enchautegui, Juan Lara, Luis A. Rivera- Batiz, and Orlando Sotomayor (University of Puerto Rico), Richard B. Freeman and Robert Z. Lawrence (Harvard University), Helen F. Ladd (Duke University), Rita Maldonado-Bear and Ingo Walter (New York University), Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz (Columbia University), and Miguel A. Soto-Class (Center for the New Economy).
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About the author

Susan M. Collins is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution and a professor of economics at Georgetown University. Her publications focus on various dimensions of economic policy and performance for developing countries. Barry Bosworth is a senior fellow and Robert V. Roosa Chair in International Economics at the Brookings Institution. Miguel A. Soto-Class is the executive director of the Center for the New Economy, a Puerto Rico-based think tank focusing on economic development issues.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Aug 29, 2007
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Pages
136
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ISBN
9780815715597
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
Political Science / Political Economy
Social Science / Developing & Emerging Countries
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Susan M. Collins
A non-incorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico operates under U.S. legal, monetary, security and tariff systems. Despite sharing in these and other key U.S. institutions, Puerto Rico has experienced economic stagnation and large scale unemployment since the 1970s. The island's living standards are low by U.S. standards, with a per capita income only half that of Mississippi, the poorest state. While many studies have analyzed the fiscal implications of Puerto Rico's political relationship with the United States, little research has focused broadly on the island's economic experience or assessed its growth prospects. In this innovative new book, economists from U.S. and Puerto Rican institutions address a range of major policy issues affecting the island's economic development. To frame the current situation, the contributors begin by assessing Puerto Rico's past experience with various growth policies. They then analyze several reforms and new initiatives in labor, education, entrepreneurship, fiscal policy, migration, trade, and financing development, which they incorporate into a proposed strategy for jumpstarting Puerto Rican economic growth. Contributors include Gary Burtless (Brookings Institution); Orlando Sotomayor, Luis Rivera-Batiz, Ramón Cao, Maria Enchautegui, José Joaquín Villamil, Eileen Segarra, Marinés Aponte, and Juan Lara (University of Puerto Rico); Richard Freeman and Robert Lawrence (Harvard University); Helen Ladd (Duke University); Francisco Rivera-Batiz (Columbia University); Steven Davis and Bruce Meyer (University of Chicago); James Alm (Georgia State University); Ingo Walter, Rita Maldonado-Bear, and William Baumol (New York University); Belinda Reyes (University of California, Merced); Alan Krueger (Princeton University); Carlos Santiago (University of Wisconsin); David Audretsch (Indiana University); Ronald Fisher (Michigan State University); Fuat Andic (UN Advisor); Arturo Estrella (NY Federal Reserve); James Hanson and Daniel Lederman (World Bank); James Dietz (University of California, Fullerton); and Katherine Terrell (University of Michigan).
Susan M. Collins
A non-incorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico operates under U.S. legal, monetary, security and tariff systems. Despite sharing in these and other key U.S. institutions, Puerto Rico has experienced economic stagnation and large scale unemployment since the 1970s. The island's living standards are low by U.S. standards, with a per capita income only half that of Mississippi, the poorest state. While many studies have analyzed the fiscal implications of Puerto Rico's political relationship with the United States, little research has focused broadly on the island's economic experience or assessed its growth prospects. In this innovative new book, economists from U.S. and Puerto Rican institutions address a range of major policy issues affecting the island's economic development. To frame the current situation, the contributors begin by assessing Puerto Rico's past experience with various growth policies. They then analyze several reforms and new initiatives in labor, education, entrepreneurship, fiscal policy, migration, trade, and financing development, which they incorporate into a proposed strategy for jumpstarting Puerto Rican economic growth. Contributors include Gary Burtless (Brookings Institution); Orlando Sotomayor, Luis Rivera-Batiz, Ramón Cao, Maria Enchautegui, José Joaquín Villamil, Eileen Segarra, Marinés Aponte, and Juan Lara (University of Puerto Rico); Richard Freeman and Robert Lawrence (Harvard University); Helen Ladd (Duke University); Francisco Rivera-Batiz (Columbia University); Steven Davis and Bruce Meyer (University of Chicago); James Alm (Georgia State University); Ingo Walter, Rita Maldonado-Bear, and William Baumol (New York University); Belinda Reyes (University of California, Merced); Alan Krueger (Princeton University); Carlos Santiago (University of Wisconsin); David Audretsch (Indiana University); Ronald Fisher (Michigan State University); Fuat Andic (UN Advisor); Arturo Estrella (NY Federal Reserve); James Hanson and Daniel Lederman (World Bank); James Dietz (University of California, Fullerton); and Katherine Terrell (University of Michigan).
Barry P. Bosworth
Longtime Brookings economist and former presidential adviser Barry Bosworth examines why saving rates in the United States have fallen so precipitously over the past quarter century, why the initial consequences were surprisingly benign, and how reduced saving will affect the future well-being of Americans.

The Decline in Saving provides an extensive and unparalleled account of the complexity of present saving patterns, an issue made even more serious by the 2008–09 global economic and financial crises. It objectively examines saving at both the individual household and the aggregate economy levels to understand whether the U.S. decline in saving is truly a threat to American prosperity.

Highlights from The Decline in Saving:

"The magnitude of the two-decade-long fall in household saving has been truly astonishing; it is even more surprising in view of the fact that the large cohort of baby boomers should have been in their peak saving years."

"If Americans save so little, why are they so rich? This divergence emerges because the conventional measure of saving excludes all forms of capital gains...."

"Saving behavior appears to be influenced in important ways by country-specific institutional factors along with a few common determinants, such as income growth, demographic changes, and variations in private wealth."

"In the aggregate, the United States has had a negative net national saving rate since the onset of the financial crisis, and it now relies on foreign resource inflows to finance all its capital accumulation and a portion of its consumption."

"The optimistic projections of just a few years ago about the future well-being of retirees now seem seriously dated."

Jeffrey D. Sachs
For dozens of developing countries, the financial upheavals of the 1980s have set back economic development by a decade or more. Poverty in those countries has intensified as they struggle under the burden of an enormous external debt. In 1988, more than six years after the onset of the crisis, almost all the debtor countries were still unable to borrow in the international capital markets on normal terms. Moreover, the world financial system has been disrupted by the prospect of widespread defaults on those debts. Because of the urgency of the present crisis, and because similar crises have recurred intermittently for at least 175 years, it is important to understand the fundamental features of the international macroeconomy and global financial markets that have contributed to this repeated instability.

This project on developing country debt, undertaken by the National Bureau of Economic Research, provides a detailed analysis of the ongoing developing country debt crisis. The project focuses on the middle-income developing countries, particularly those in Latin America and East Asia, although many lessons of the study should apply as well to other, poorer debtor countries. The project analyzes the crisis from two perspectives, that of the international financial system as a whole (volume 1) and that of individual debtor countries (volumes 2 and 3).

This third volume contains lengthy and detailed case studies of four very different Asian countries—Turkey, Indonesia, Korea, and the Philippines.
Susan M. Collins
A non-incorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico operates under U.S. legal, monetary, security and tariff systems. Despite sharing in these and other key U.S. institutions, Puerto Rico has experienced economic stagnation and large scale unemployment since the 1970s. The island's living standards are low by U.S. standards, with a per capita income only half that of Mississippi, the poorest state. While many studies have analyzed the fiscal implications of Puerto Rico's political relationship with the United States, little research has focused broadly on the island's economic experience or assessed its growth prospects. In this innovative new book, economists from U.S. and Puerto Rican institutions address a range of major policy issues affecting the island's economic development. To frame the current situation, the contributors begin by assessing Puerto Rico's past experience with various growth policies. They then analyze several reforms and new initiatives in labor, education, entrepreneurship, fiscal policy, migration, trade, and financing development, which they incorporate into a proposed strategy for jumpstarting Puerto Rican economic growth. Contributors include Gary Burtless (Brookings Institution); Orlando Sotomayor, Luis Rivera-Batiz, Ramón Cao, Maria Enchautegui, José Joaquín Villamil, Eileen Segarra, Marinés Aponte, and Juan Lara (University of Puerto Rico); Richard Freeman and Robert Lawrence (Harvard University); Helen Ladd (Duke University); Francisco Rivera-Batiz (Columbia University); Steven Davis and Bruce Meyer (University of Chicago); James Alm (Georgia State University); Ingo Walter, Rita Maldonado-Bear, and William Baumol (New York University); Belinda Reyes (University of California, Merced); Alan Krueger (Princeton University); Carlos Santiago (University of Wisconsin); David Audretsch (Indiana University); Ronald Fisher (Michigan State University); Fuat Andic (UN Advisor); Arturo Estrella (NY Federal Reserve); James Hanson and Daniel Lederman (World Bank); James Dietz (University of California, Fullerton); and Katherine Terrell (University of Michigan).
Jack E. Triplett
Barry P. Bosworth
Persistently large external imbalances in the world economy contributed to the outbreak of the recent financial crisis. The current account imbalances were particularly severe among the economies that border on the Pacific—the United States ran large deficits, with offsetting surpluses in East Asia. The depth and breadth of the global recession also demonstrated the need for a coordination of national policies to achieve a sustained recovery.

While the magnitude of global-trade disruption led to some reduction in the size of the imbalances, closer examination suggests that the progress may prove temporary. On the other hand, significant changes in the underlying patterns of saving and investment suggest that some of the recent rebalancing may prove to be more permanent. Are such imbalances really a problem? If so, why and for whom? What should be done about them—if anything—and what does the future likely hold for transpacific trade relations? In this timely book, Asian and American economists explore those important questions.

Copublished with the Asian Development Bank Institute, Transpacific Rebalancing is coedited by Barry Bosworth—long one of the Brookings Institution's leading economic analysts—and Masahiro Kawai, dean of the ADBI. They brought together leading economists from either side of the Pacific to analyze such issues as:

• The impact of exchange rates

• The policy choices facing the "Asian tigers"

• The specifics and effects of trade imbalances in specific countries including the United States, South Korea, Thailand, India, and China

Contributors include Hwee Kwan Chow, Susan M. Collins, Barry Eichengreen, Joonkyung Ha, Yping Huang, Ginalyn Komoto, Jong-Wha Lee, Rajiv Kumar, Deunden Nikomborirak, Gisela Rua, Lea Sumulong, Chalongphob Sussankam, Kunyu Tao, Willem Thorbecke, and Pankaj Vashisht.

Jack E. Triplett
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