Central America constitutes a fascinating case study of the challenges, opportunities and characteristics of the process of transformation in today’s global economy. Comprised of a politically diverse range of societies, this region has long been of interest to students of economic development and political change.

The Handbook of Central American Governance aims to describe and explain the manifold processes that are taking place in Central America that are altering patterns of social, political and economic governance, with particular focus on the impact of globalization and democratization. Containing sections on topics such as state and democracy, key political and social actors, inequality and social policy and international relations, in addition to in-depth studies on five key countries (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala), this text is composed of contributions from some of the leading scholars in the field.

No other single volume studies the current characteristics of the region from a political, economic and social perspective or reviews recent research in such detail. As such, this handbook is of value to academics, students and researchers as well as to policy-makers and those with an interest in governance and political processes.

chapter 1|19 pages


Central America's triple transition and the persistent power of the elite
BySalvador Martíi Puig, Diego Sánchez-Ancochea

part Part I|93 pages

Development and income (re)distribution

chapter 2|20 pages

The great transformation in Central America

Transnational accumulation and the evolution of capital
ByAaron Schneider

chapter 5|20 pages

The distribution of income in Central America

ByT. H. Gindling, Juán Diego Trejos

chapter 6|21 pages

Social policy in Central America

Stubborn legacies, positive yet limited change
ByJuliana Martínez Franzoni

part Part II|99 pages

Democratization and the state

chapter 7|15 pages

Advancing the study of stateness in Central America

Methodology and some illustrative findings 1
ByJorge Vargas Cullell

chapter 9|14 pages

Institutional legitimacy in Central America: 2004–10

ByJohn A. Booth, Mitchell A. Seligson

chapter 10|19 pages

Central American (High) Courts

ByElena Martínez Barahona

chapter 11|16 pages

The Central American military

Building democratic control in post-conflict societies
ByOrlando J. Pérez, Rafael Martínez

chapter 12|18 pages

Drug-trafficking and governance in Central America

ByOtto Argueta

part Part III|89 pages

Key political and social actors

chapter 13|17 pages

Political parties

The right
ByBarry Cannon

chapter 14|15 pages

Political parties

The left
BySalvador Martíi Puig

chapter 15|17 pages

The transformation of Central American economic elites

From local tycoons to transnational business groups
ByBenedicte Bull, Yuri Kasahara

chapter 16|19 pages

Social movements in Central America

ByRose J. Spalding

chapter 17|19 pages

Indigenous and Afro-descendant social movements in Central America

ByMiguel González, Vivian Jiménez Estrada, Víctor Manuel del Cid

part Part IV|58 pages

International relations

chapter 18|13 pages

Central America's relations with the United States of America

ByHéctor Perla, Salvador Martíi Puig, Danny Burridge

chapter 19|13 pages

Central America's relations with Latin America

ByFrancisco Rojas Aravena, Pedro Caldentey del Pozo

chapter 20|15 pages

Regional integration in Central America

ByFernando Rueda-Junquera

part Part V|82 pages

Country experiences

chapter 22|18 pages

Costa Rica

ByAlberto Cortés Ramos, Gerardo Hernández Naranjo, Diego Sánchez-Ancochea

chapter 23|15 pages

El Salvador

ByMo Hume

chapter 24|20 pages


ByPablo González

chapter 25|12 pages


ByMichelle M. Taylor-Robinson

chapter 26|15 pages


ByDavid Close