Over the past seven decades, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have been marked by exceptionally high levels of multiple and interconnected inequalities. In addition to being the world’s most unequal region, LAC continues to struggle with lagging growth, persistent poverty, and vulnerability to shocks. The Covid-19 pandemic, for example, slashed regional GDP by 7 percent in 2020 – LAC’s worst economic shock since the 19th century independence period. In the post-pandemic period, amid slowing global growth and other challenges on the horizon, empirical and rigorous evidence can help LAC policymakers chart a course for inclusive growth, poverty reduction, and resilience. 

Building on a long tradition of research and policy engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean, the faculty supported by EGC have strong networks with academics and policymakers in the region. These connections have resulted in rigorous research on LAC’s most significant challenges and opportunities – from conditional cash transfers to pension reforms, educational disparities, and early-childhood interventions often conducted in direct collaboration with governments.

Leveraging these experiences and strengths, the EGC Latin America and the Caribbean Program supports Yale faculty who study the region’s many facets of economic development, employing a range of quantitative methods. This includes work along five main themes. 

The LAC region’s high levels of inequality persist despite profound progress in recent decades: regional income per capita has more than doubled since 1960, while education has expanded, women’s participation in the labor force has surged, and the region’s economies have opened up to technological change and globalization. The Latin America and the Caribbean Inequality Review (LACIR), a collaborative effort between EGC, the Inter-American Development Bank, the London School of Economics, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, was launched in 2021 to study why and how such progress coexists with persistent inequality. The interdisciplinary initiative brings together top scholars from diverse fields to provide a coherent and comprehensive overview of the inequality problem in Latin America, featuring a mix of new analysis, new data, and in-depth critical reviews of the academic literature. For more information, visit the official LACIR page. 

Faculty interviews and highlights from EGC research

Early childhood is a critical period for children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development, two key dimensions of human capital. Yet in LAC, access to quality early childhood interventions remains highly unequal. In addition, educational inequalities – in terms of access, delivery, and quality as well as outcomes – are a major challenge for school systems across the region. Over the past decade, several Yale researchers have conducted research on early childhood development as well as education in LAC–leading to deep engagements with policymakers about putting research into practice at scale.

Faculty interviews and highlights from EGC research: 

The legacy of colonialism and slavery – as well as centuries of migration to and within the Americas – is inextricably linked to LAC’s development story. EGC affiliates and other Yale faculty have conducted extensive studies on the evolution of LAC’s economic, political and social development. In particular, EGC’s Bridging the Atlantic: Migrations and their Legacies Initiative examines the role of colonialists and other migrants in LAC’s economic development by tracking immigrant and slave flows from 1492 through today, as well as creating datasets with historical economic information in the region.

Faculty interviews and highlights from EGC research: 

Social protection programs, including conditional cash transfers (CCTs) and other forms of social assistance, are ubiquitous in LAC: approximately fifty percent of the region’s population is covered by some type of social protection. Yet many challenges remain. High levels of economic informality, for instance, mean that many households are reliant on non-contributory forms of social protection (such as CCTs) rather than contributory programs (i.e. social security or pensions) tied to formal employment. Moreover, existing social protection programs are often not flexible enough to identify and support people affected by sudden shocks, as shown by Covid-19. EGC faculty have studied various social protection programs across LAC, often in close collaboration with government partners, to help identify opportunities for measuring and strengthening their effectiveness.

Faculty interviews and highlights from EGC research: 

In a region characterized by high levels of economic informality and a high concentration of business ownership, the study of inequality in LAC is intricately tied to the study of firms, as well as the domestic and international markets in which they operate. Since the independence period, the roles of multinational companies and global trade have featured prominently in debates about the region’s economic development. EGC faculty have conducted innovative research on topics, including the role of free trade agreements, multinational firms, domestic exporters, and domestic market access in the region. These efforts overlap with EGC’s Markets and Development Initiative and its International Trade program. 

Faculty interviews and highlights from EGC research: 


Program Faculty

Orazio Attanasio

Lorenzo Caliendo

Kevin Donovan

Ana Cecília Fieler

José-Antonio Espín-Sánchez

Christopher A. Neilson

Diana Van Patten


Ana De La O Torres