The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Prebisch, Raúl (1901–1986)

  • José Gabriel Palma
Reference work entry


Prebisch was concerned with four stylized facts of commodity-exporting middle- income countries: (a) failure to ‘catch-up’; (b) recurrent balance of payments disequilibrium; (c) unstable and deteriorating terms of trade; and (d) persistent unemployment. At the core of Prebisch’s analysis lies his differentiation of the economic and export structures of the centre and periphery. Those of the centre were seen as homogeneous and diversified, those of the periphery as heterogeneous and over-specialized. Prebisch associates the second and third problems above primarily with export over-specialization (too few homogeneous, unbranded and price-volatile commodities), and the first and fourth with structural heterogeneity (which hindered industrialization).


Balance of payments Commodity-exporting countries Comparative advantage Cooperative games Excess demand Kaldor, N. Import substitution Industrialization Long-term economic growth Periphery Prebisch, R. Robinson, J. V. Structuralism Terms of trade 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Gabriel Palma
    • 1
  1. 1.