Magazine article Americas Quarterly

Letter from the Editor

Magazine article Americas Quarterly

Letter from the Editor

Article excerpt

The topic of our Spring issue, social inclusion, is a deeply personal issue for me and for the AQ editorial team. Social inclusion-the basic idea that development goes beyond reducing economic inequality to include notions of equal opportunity, political voice, human dignity, and rights-defi nes a central mission of Americas Quarterly. It is a theme and ethos that we strive to refl ect in every article, every issue and in our own offi ce.

As a U.S. citizen who works on Latin America (from Park Avenue in New York), I have had access to economic and social opportunities I could never have imagined growing up. I grew up in a rural town that had been hollowed out by the decline of local manufacturing. Neither of my parents fi nished college. In most Latin American countries-and certainly in many parts of the United States even today-the odds of my overcoming such barriers would have been pretty slim.

In my case, the odds were strengthened by my parents, who believed in education as if it were religion: it could save, heal, ennoble, and provide a life after Horseheads, New York (yes, the name of my hometown).

The economic and professional benefi ts of a university education then (in the late 1980s) were still credible and real. Today, the unemployment rate of graduates entering the U.S. job market and the widening gap between rich and poor have begun to fray the edges of an American Dream built on the ideal that education is a ticket to opportunity and a stable, secure economic future.

You need only look at measures of opportunity and social mobility-such as the World Bank's Human Opportunity Index, or work by Florencia Torche of New York University-to see how all too often, the deck is stacked against those Latin Americans who don't already have a comfortable cushion of resources, family connections and access to good schools.

It is in this spirit that I'm excited to unveil our Social Inclusion Index on page 114. …

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