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How Not to Defend the Revolution: Mark Weisbrot and the Misinterpretation of Venezuelan Evidence

Francisco Rodríguez ()

No 2008-001, Wesleyan Economics Working Papers from Wesleyan University, Department of Economics

Abstract: Mark Weisbrot (2008) has claimed that under the Chávez administration in Venezuela the share of pro-poor spending has increased, inequality has declined, poverty has fallen rapidly, and there has been a massive reduction in illiteracy. All of these conclusions are based on the use of heavily slanted data and on the misinterpretation of the existing empirical evidence. Weisbrot uses estimates of social spending that are upward biased by the inclusion of large infrastructure projects, debt refinancing, and even military spending; his inequality data is distorted by the inexplicable exclusion of households that received no income; his econometric estimates on illiteracy actually show the exact opposite of what he is arguing for. Weisbrot confuses basic economic concepts and offers a bizarre interpretation of events leading up to the 2002 currency crisis. Once one corrects for Weibrot’s biases, the evidence paints a consistent image of an administration that has not effectively prioritized the well-being of the Venezuelan poor.

Pages: 16 pages
Date: 2008-03
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