We summarize the history of Latin American urbanization with a focus on the evolution of cities from the colonial and post-colonial eras to the adoption of the import-substitution model of development and its subsequent replacement by a neoliberal adjustment model. Consequences for the urban system of both import-substitution and neoliberal policies are examined, with a focus on the evolution of the urban population and trends in several strategic areas. We examine indicators of unemployment and informal employment; poverty and inequality; and urban crime and victimization rates as they evolved from the import-substitution era to the implosion of the neoliberal model that replaced it in the early twenty-first century. The consequences for cities of the disastrous application of this model are summarized as a prelude to the analysis of more recent trends. Based on the latest statistical indicators available, we document a significant decline in unemployment and economic inequality in six Latin American nations that jointly comprise 80 percent of the population of the region. Employment in the informal sector also declined steadily, although it still comprises a large proportion of Latin American labor markets. Consequences of this situation for the citizenry and alternative government policies to address it are discussed.

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