Academic journal article Public Administration Research

Public Policy in Central America: An Empirical Analysis

Academic journal article Public Administration Research

Public Policy in Central America: An Empirical Analysis

Article excerpt

Abstract

This is a cross-sectional study focusing on public policy in the seven nations of Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Outcomes are evaluated in terms of public wellbeing. Public policy is operationalized: with regard to business using two measures, one for economic freedom and another for corporate taxation; with regard to ethics using two measures, one for gender equality and another for corruption; with regard to openness using four measures, two external, trade and tourism, and two internal, the number of roads in a country and the number whites in a country; and with regard to contraception using a single measure, fertility. Public wellbeing is operationalized using: three economic measures, GDP per capita, lost income, and poverty rate; four societal measures, literacy rate, homicide rate, life expectancy, and lost satisfaction; and, two holistic measures, the Human Development Index and the Environmental Performance Index. Pearson correlation is used to calculate the linear association for each pair of measures. The results suggest that there is no relationship between public wellbeing and two measures of public policy: gender equality and the number of roads in a country. But there is evidently a relationship between public wellbeing and the remaining seven measures of public policy: economic freedom, corporate taxation, corruption, trade, tourism, the number of whites in a country, and fertility. And the direction of those seven relationships supports the claims of capitalists as opposed to the claims of socialists.

Keywords: Central America, public policy, capitalism, neoliberal, socialism, fascist, communist, dependency

1. Introduction

This is a cross-sectional study focusing on public policy in the seven nations of Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Outcomes are evaluated in terms of public wellbeing. A regional study is appropriate because "transnational trends ... operated in Central America ... before the establishment of separate states ... and their impact continued thereafter" (Roniger, 2011, p. 10).

The Spanish Kingdom of Guatemala encompassed all of Central America at one time or another. Political unification dates from the establishment of a regional court, the Audiencia de los Confines, in 1542. Its jurisdiction in the Kingdom of Guatemala "survived beyond the end of Spanish rule" but only just (Woodward, 2008, p. 16-22). After independence from Spain (1821), the Kingdom of Guatemala was superseded by the United Provinces of Central America (1823), aka the Federal Republic of Central America (1824), the Confederation of Central America (1842), the National Representation of Central America (1851), the Federation of Central America (1852), the Greater Republic of Central America (1896), and the United States of Central America (1898). Life was turbulent and short for these attempts at political union.

Regional associations in the 20th century included the Central American Court of Justice (1907), the Central American Labor Council (1925), the Organization of Central American States (1951), the Multilateral Treaty on Free Trade and Central American Economic Integration (1958), the Central American Common Market (1960), the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (1960), the Central American Defense Council (1964), the Central American Monetary Council (1964), the Central American Parliament (1991), the Central American Integration System (1991), the Central American Court of Justice (reconfigured 1992), the Central American Free Trade Zone (1993), the Alliance for the Sustainable Development of Central America (1994), the Central American Social Integration System (1995), and the Framework Treaty on Democratic Security in Central America (1995). Now, in the 21st century, there is the Central America Free Trade Agreement (2004) aka the United States-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement. …

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