Is There a Transition to Democracy in El Salvador?

By Joseph S. Tulchin; Gary Bland | Go to book overview

10
The State of the Economy

Roberto Murray Meza


The 1980s: A Decade of Economic Decline and Stagnation

After more than twenty-five years of uninterrupted growth (at an average annual rate of 5 percent in real terms), the economy of El Salvador entered the 1980s in a virtual free-fall.From 1979 to 1982 real GDP dropped 22 percent and fell well below the overall level of output achieved in 1974. During the same period, real income per capita declined 27 percent; this pushed average incomes lower than levels achieved in 1964. Over the rest of the decade, the economy limped along, growing at an average annual rate of only 1.5 percent. El Salvador ended the decade with a GDP 13 percent below its high point eleven years earlier.

One area that epitomizes the overall economic decline in the 1980s is export performance. From 1977 through 1980 exports averaged $1 billion per year and exceeded imports in three of those four years. After 1980, however, exports dropped almost steadily to less than $500 million in 1989. Even with the remarkable 17 percent surge in 1990, the value of export revenue is still only about one-half of that registered in 1979, El Salvador's peak year for exports.

Not only did the Salvadoran economy suffer the consequences of a major drop in export earnings, but it also missed out on the potential benefits of what could have been a major expansion of exports to world markets.After the downturn at the beginning of the decade, the world economy experienced one of its longest periods of continuous growth in history. Several of El Salvador's Central American neighbors, includ‐

____________________
Roberto Murray Meza is president of Cervecería La Constancia, S.A., in San Salvador.

-105-

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Is There a Transition to Democracy in El Salvador?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Is There a Transition to Democracy in El Salvador? *
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1 El Salvador After the March 1991 Elections 15
  • 1: Elections and the Road to Peace *
  • 2: The Political Reality After Eleven Years of War 25
  • 3: Commentary 59
  • 4: Discussion 63
  • Part 2 the United States and Democracy in El Salvador *
  • 5: The Role of Us Policy *
  • 6: Commentary 73
  • 7: Discussion 77
  • Part 3 the Transition to Democratic Government: Three Key Issues 82
  • 8: Human Rights *
  • 9: The Tanda System and Institutional Autonomy of the Military 95
  • 10: The State of the Economy 105
  • 11: Commentary 125
  • 12: Discussion 129
  • Part 4 the Prospects for Peace *
  • 13: The Negotiations Following the New York Agreement *
  • 14: Discussion 149
  • Part 5 Conclusion *
  • 15: Assessing the Transition to Democracy *
  • Index 206
  • About the Book 213
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