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Structuralism and Human Development: A Seamless Marriage? An Assessment of Poverty, Production and Environmental Challenges in CARICOM Countries

Keston K. Perry

International Journal of Political Economy, 2020, vol. 49, issue 3, 222-242

Abstract: The article examines the current human development experience of CARICOM nations focusing on the interconnected challenges of poverty, production and the environment that show continuing uneven development. Using an extended structuralist framework based on international political economy dynamics, it incorporates organizational dynamics and domestic politics, especially the role of rents in influencing productive and inclusive development. In this way, the article examines the 2016 Caribbean Human Development Report (CHDR) and finds evidence that human development, proxied by expenditures on education and healthcare, has decoupled from productive capability evinced by decreasing industrial output. We concur with recent critiques of the human development paradigm (HDP) that it has ignored a productionist view of development and thus limits the scope of development policy to bring about broad production transformation. By and large, structural heterogeneity also represents a challenge in CARICOM countries. Linked to questions of development finance, we find that the CHDR’s analysis of environmental concerns offers a narrow instrumentalist view and further marginalizes a deeper understanding of CARICOM countries’ asymmetrical relationship with transnational forces in the global economy. This contribution offers an integrated approach showing continued peripheralization and helps identify structural, socio-political and technical drivers that underpin the region’s complex development challenges.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/08911916.2020.1824735

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