CEPR Paper Responds to Foreign Affairs on Venezuela

by Chris Sturr | March 27, 2008

CEPR Paper Responds to Foreign Affairs on Venezuela

by Mark Weisberg

Center for Economic and Policy Research
March 21, 2008

Washington, D.C.

A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy
Research responds to a recent article by Francisco
Rodriguez in the March/April 2008 issue of Foreign
Affairs
that argued that Venezuela’s poor have not
benefited from the government of President Hugo Chavez.

“In the five years since the Venezuelan government has
gotten control over its national oil company, the
economy (real GDP) has grown more than 87 percent,
poverty has been cut in half, and unemployment by more
than half,” said Mark Weisbrot, CEPR Co-Director and
author of the paper, “An Empty Research Agenda: The
Creation of Myths About Contemporary Venezuela.”

“Real social spending per person has increased by more
than 300 percent, and the government has expanded
access to health care, subsidized food, and education.
Under these conditions, it would indeed be remarkable
if the living standards of the poor had not improved
substantially,” he added.

The paper looks at various claims in the Foreign
Affairs
article by Francisco Rodriguez:

Rodriguez claims that inequality, as measured by the
Gini coefficient has worsened during the Chavez years.
This is wrong. The only consistent measure of the Gini
coefficient shows a substantial decline
from 48.7 in 1998, or alternatively from 48.1 in 2003,
to 42 in 2007. For a rough idea of the size of this
reduction in inequality, compare this to a similar
movement in the other direction: from 1980-2005, the
Gini coefficient for the United States went from 40.3
to 46.9, a period in which there was an enormous
(upward) redistribution of income. Read more…

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