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How has Latin America's well-being evolved over time? How does Latin America compare to today's developed countries (OECD, for short)? What explains their differences? These questions are addressed using an historical index of human development. A sustained improvement in well-being can be observed since 1870. The absolute gap between OECD and Latin America widened over time, but an incomplete catching-uplargely explained by educationoccurred since 1900, but faded away after 1980, as Latin America fell behind the OECD in terms of longevity. Once the first health transition was exhausted, the contribution of life expectancy to human development declined.
human-development index; developing-countries; primary-education; living standards; life expectancy; mortality; 20th-century; quality; decline; transition