Policymaking and policy analysis in Latin America—A return journey


This paper reviews and updates the conceptual approaches of the author's Journeys Towards Progress (1963). It focuses first on distinctions explaining differences in the path of policymaking and in its effectiveness. Distinctions are made between pressing and autonomously chosen policy problems, between privileged problems and neglected ones that must manage to “ride the coattails” of the former to receive attention, and between policy tasks that are tackled with more motivation than understanding and those with the opposite characteristic. Addressing then similarities in experience with policymaking, the paper first comments on fracasomania (the failure complex) and on the incapacity ever to be surprised at both consequences and determinants of under-development. Indirect and unanticipated effects of policies are illustrated through a Colombian example. A Concluding Lament suggests that the watch for side-effects must be unusually wide-angled in today's Latin America.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Author information



Additional information

This is a revision of a paper submitted to the Social Science Research Council Conference on Public Policy and its Impacts in Latin America, Buenos Aires, August 12–15, 1974.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hirschman, A.O. Policymaking and policy analysis in Latin America—A return journey. Policy Sci 6, 385–402 (1975). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00142381

Download citation


  • Economic Policy
  • Paper Review
  • Policy Analysis
  • Conceptual Approach
  • Policy Problem