Sorting Out the Mixed Economy: The Rise and Fall of Welfare and Developmental States in the Americas

The untold story of how welfare and development programs in the United States and Latin America produced the instruments of their own destruction


Published (US):
Jun 8, 2021
Published (UK):
Jun 22, 2021
6.13 x 9.25 in.
22 b/w illus. 2 tables. 4 maps.
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In the years after 1945, a flood of U.S. advisors swept into Latin America with dreams of building a new economic order and lifting the Third World out of poverty. These businessmen, economists, community workers, and architects went south with the gospel of the New Deal on their lips, but Latin American realities soon revealed unexpected possibilities within the New Deal itself. In Colombia, Latin Americans and U.S. advisors ended up decentralizing the state, privatizing public functions, and launching austere social welfare programs. By the 1960s, they had remade the country’s housing projects, river valleys, and universities. They had also generated new lessons for the United States itself. When the Johnson administration launched the War on Poverty, U.S. social movements, business associations, and government agencies all promised to repatriate the lessons of development, and they did so by multiplying the uses of austerity and for-profit contracting within their own welfare state. A decade later, ascendant right-wing movements seeking to dismantle the midcentury state did not need to reach for entirely new ideas: they redeployed policies already at hand.

In this groundbreaking book, Amy Offner brings readers to Colombia and back, showing the entanglement of American societies and the contradictory promises of midcentury statebuilding. The untold story of how the road from the New Deal to the Great Society ran through Latin America, Sorting Out the Mixed Economy also offers a surprising new account of the origins of neoliberalism.

Awards and Recognition

  • Winner of the Alice Amsden Book Award, Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics
  • Winner of the Murdo J. MacLeod Book Prize, Latin American and Caribbean Section of the Southern Historical Association
  • Co-Winner of the EHS First Monograph Prize, Economic History Society
  • Co-Winner of the Michael H. Hunt Prize in International History, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations
  • Honorable Mention for the Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations
  • Finalist for the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize
  • Honorable Mention for the Allan Sharlin Memorial Award, Social Science History Association