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Whereas people often turn to institutions – the rules that structure human interactions – to understand outcomes, and to effect policy changes, both analysts and policymakers often decry the failure of weak institutions to accomplish their purpose in Latin America. In this book, we offer a conceptual framework for studying weak institutions, and a typology of institutional weakness that helps to clarify the political puzzles posed by institutions that do not accomplish their ostensible purpose. Institutions can be weak, we say, because they are unstable, because they do not command compliance, or because they do not actually change any outcomes even if they are complied with. We discuss the reasons behind the adoption of these institutions and the conditions that explain their prevalence in Latin America.
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