Our Thinking

The Development Problem

The implicit assumption that economic growth will solve most development problems still shapes development thinking in Latin America. However, across the region, economic growth has not resolved problems of persistently high levels of social inequality, poor employment conditions, environmental degradation, and natural resource dependency. Combined, these factors lead to low levels of social cohesion, high crime rates, problems of democratic and institutional governance, as well as to political dissatisfaction.

Most Latin American countries are now classified as “middle income” developing countries. Higher GDP per capita levels are in sight. But the kind of equal opportunities taken for granted in developed societies will still be a distant dream, even if higher GDP levels are achieved. Historically, only a handful of less-developed countries have overcome this "middle income trap". In the Latin American region, those countries that have come close at different points in history have even ended up regressing, or imploding economically and politically. Meanwhile, development thinking in Latin America is as far away as ever from finding a workable strategy.


The Centre for New Development Thinking has been established in order to question traditional approaches to development problems. We recognize that much progress has been made during recent decades. However, much development thinking has systematically neglected certain areas of public policy, such as labour markets, the environment and industrial policy, which are instrumental to containing the social cost of liberalized globalization. The neglect of these issues in particular has led to the persistent multidimensional inequalities that still constitute the distinguishing mark of the region.


We believe that it is time to establish new development priorities based on the principles of social justice.


We believe that the purpose of economic development should be the expansion of human capabilities and freedoms.


We believe that development should be sustainable in every aspect.


We believe that high levels of multidimensional inequality undermine the purpose of development.