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More than a million people, nearly one-third of Cuba's labor force, are employed by the "non-state sector"of the economy: self-employed workers, land usufructuaries, members of new cooperatives, buyers and sellers of private housing units, and other groups. Although the expansion of the non-state sector is the most significant structural reform initiated by Raul Castro, which has led to the gradual contraction of the state sector, little is known about the characteristics (such as age, gender, race, and education), socioeconomic conditions, and aspirations of the emergent non-state sector. Based on 80 interviews conducted in Cuba between 2014 and 2015, this book gathers the sector's voices; they speak about their level of satisfaction with their work and income, employed workers and forms of payment, profits and their distribution between investment and consumption, expansion plans for their microenterprises, receipt of external remittances and microcredits, competition and advertising, and payment of taxes.The book's key part details the main problems faced by self-employed workers and their desire to improve or change the situation.

Dr. Carmelo Mesa-Lago is Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics and Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author or editor of 93 books and 300 articles and book chapters about the economics of social security in Latin America, the Cuban economy, and comparative economic systems, translated into seven languages and published in 34 countries. He has received several prominent awards, including those from the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung (1991, 2002) and the International Labor Organization for his research, together with Nelson Mandela (2007). In 2015 he was chosen as one of the 50 most influential intellectuals in Ibero-America. He is a member of the Community Advisory Board of FlU's Cuban Research Institute.



Document Type


Event Date

Winter 1-27-2017


Coral Gables


Latin American Studies

Voice of Change in Cuba's Non-State Sector Self-Employed Workers, Usufructuaries, Cooperative Members, and Buyers and Sellers of Housing Units



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