Cuba's “Equity Without Growth” Dilemma and the 2011 Lineamientos

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ABSTRACT

Cuba faces a development dilemma: it promotes equity and human capital while failing to deliver economic growth. For the government, the country's equity and human capital achievements are a source of pride, a sign that its priorities are right. This essay argues instead that this “equity without growth” dilemma is a sign of malaise. Theory and evidence suggest that high levels of equity and human capital should produce high levels of economic growth. Because growth is often weak or negative, some onerous barriers to development must be present. These barriers, it is argued, are restrictions on property and political rights. By comparing Cuba and China across two sectors, the bicycle industry and Internet access, this article shows how these restrictions have hindered growth. It also assesses how Cuba's latest economic reforms, the so-called Lineamientos, will address Cuba's development dilemma. The impact may be minimal, but perhaps more lasting than previous reforms.

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