Two facts stand out from even the most cursory inspection of income distribution data in Latin America. First, income is highly concentrated, making the region one of the most unequal in the world. Second, despite the fact that the region has now reached an intermediate position among the world's nations in terms of per capita income (some US$2,000 per year on average), a level which, by historical standards, would presuppose a more equitable distribution of income, this has not happened. In fact, the distribution of income in Latin America has become, if anything, more highly skewed than ever. The question then is: why is this so? The explanation forms the heart of this paper. Precisely because neither of these statements would hold if the countries to which they apply were either “average” or “well-behaved,” the explanation thatfollows assumesa “neostructuralist perspective” (Lustig, 1991) — i.e., one that ascribes causality to a number of regional charactristics related to its history and the interaction among its factor, cultural, and institutional endowments.