The relation between the economy and equity has shown marked contrasts in Latin America over the past two decades. Increases in public spending have been reflected in advances in education, health and access to basic utilities. In contrast, the region has experienced weak labor market performance and limited advances in social security. By José Antonio Ocampo, senior nonresident fellow for the Latin America Initiative, and Juliana Vallejo, former research associate for the United Nations Development Programme and Organization of American States Project on Democracy in Latin America. Published in the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, January 2012.