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What leads to national progress? The growing consensus in the social sciences is that neither capital flows, nor the savings rate, nor diffuse values are the key, but that it lies in the quality of a nation's institutions. This book is the first comparative study of how real institutions affect national development. It seeks to examine and deepen this insight through a systematic study of institutions in five Latin American countries and how they differ within and across nations. Postal systems, stock exchanges, public health services and others were included in the sample, all studied with the same methodology. The country chapters present detailed results of this empirical exercise for each individual country. The introductory chapters present the theoretical framework and research methodology for the full study. The summary results of this ambitious study presented in the concluding chapter draw comparisons across countries and discuss what these results mean for national development in Latin America.