Cuba’s Economic Change in Comparative Perspective

cuba_economic_change_englishThe Cuban economy has been mired in stagnation for more than two decades, with declining living standards, an outdated productive apparatus and a balance of payments under severe strain. Frustrated by the lack of promising opportunities, many of the best educated youth are exiting the island. In response to these accumulated challenges, the Cuban government has initiated a process of gradual but increasingly comprehensive economic reforms that eventually may resemble a form of mixed market socialism open to the international economy.

The six papers authored by Cuban and international economists in Cuba’s Economic Change in Comparative Perspective explore the roots of the economic crisis from Soviet-era central planning decades earlier, assess reforms undertaken by President Raúl Castro, analyze the challenges to change and recommend steps Cuba and the international community can take to overcome the crisis. Given that its often isolated reforms have so far created further distortions and failed to produce expected outcomes, the Cuban government should recognize the interrelated nature of economic variables as part of these key policy proposals and should present a clear strategic development model. More transparent goals and consistent implementation would improve the coherency of policymaking and help mitigate public anxieties about the future.

These papers were produced as part of a series of expert workshops organized by the Brookings Institution’s Latin America Initiative and the University of Havana’s Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy and the Center for Research on the International Economy.


Policies for Economic Growth: Cuba’s New Era
Juan Triana Cordoví and Ricardo Torres Pérez analyze the structural factors in Cuba that impact economic growth, including workforce dynamics and quality, physical capital accumulation, accumulation and structure of factors of production, access to international markets and the domestic market. Read more »


Economic Transformation and Institutional Change in Cuba
Antonio Romero analyzes the economic and institutional changes that have occurred in Cuba from 2011 to 2014. Read more »


Institutional Changes of Cuba’s Economic Social Reforms
Carmelo Mesa-Lago evaluates the pros and cons of Cuba’s economic reform plans as they relate to institutional change. Read more »


Economic Growth and Restructuring Through Trade and FDI: Costa Rican Experiences of Interest to Cuba
Alberto Trejos examines the Costa Rican development experience over the last 30 years and offers the most salient elements of its success for consideration in forming Cuban economic policy. Read more »


Monetary Reform in Cuba Leading Up to 2016: Between Gradualism and the “Big Bang”
Pavel Vidal Alejandro and Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva analyze the benefits and costs of the eventual devaluation of the official exchange rate for the Cuban peso, which the Cuban government will use to achieve monetary unification in 2016. Read more »


Exchange Rate Unification: The Cuban Case
Augusto de la Torre and Alain Ize take an international perspective in examining the challenges Cuba faces in unifying its exchange rate, and compare various options to meet this objective. Read more »