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Investigación económica

Print version ISSN 0185-1667

Inv. Econ vol.63 n.247 Ciudad de México Jan./Mar. 2004



Economic Growth and the Balance-of-Payments Constraint in Latin America

Crecimiento económico y limitación de la balanza de pagos en América Latina

Márcio Holland* 

Flávio Vilela Vieira* 

Otaviano Canuto** 

*Federal University of Uberlândia, Brazil <>, <>

**University of São Paulo, Brazil <>.


The paper presents an empirical investigation into the determinants of long-run growth for ten Latin American countries based on the balance-of-payments constrained growth model developed by Thirlwall (1979) and McCombie & Thirlwall (1994). One of the goals is to estimate the income elasticities of imports in order to test Thirlwall's law and see how well this model can be used to predict long-run growth in Latin America. Our empirical results suggest that Latin American economies need to accomplish significant changes in their specialization of production if the goal of sustainable high long-run growth rates is to be achieved. It is fair to say that it is necessary to pursue, at the same time, an increase in the growth rate of exports and a lower income elasticity of the demand for imports.


El artículo presenta una investigación empírica sobre los determinantes del crecimiento a largo plazo en diez países de América Latina basada en el modelo de crecimiento limitado por la balanza de pagos desarrollado por Thirlwall (1979) y McCombie y Thirlwall (1994). Una de las metas es estimar la elasticidad ingreso de las importaciones y mostrar qué tan adecuado puede ser este modelo para predecir el crecimiento a largo plazo en América Latina. Nuestros resultados empíricos sugieren que las economías de América Latina necesitan efectuar un cambio significativo en la especialización de su producción para lograr la meta de alcanzar altas tasas de crecimiento sostenido a largo plazo. En este contexto, es necesario perseguir un incremento en la tasa de crecimiento de las exportaciones y rebajar la elasticidad ingreso de la demanda por importaciones.

JEL Clasification: C5, C22, F41, F42.

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Received: January 2003; Accepted: June 2003

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