RESEARCH

Puerto Rico Economy Project (PREP)

Established in 2011 by the Center for International Studies, the Puerto Rico Economy Project at MIT (PREP) is a multi-year, multi-disciplinary effort to explore ways to boost sustainable economic growth in Puerto Rico.

Now housed in the Political Science Department, PREP kicked off with a two-day conference at MIT in February 2011, bringing together policy professionals from Puerto Rico with MIT scholars. The conference clarified Puerto Rico's economic and social challenges, discussed the role of the U.S. government, and situated Puerto Rico's future in the Caribbean Basin and Latin America.

The project has developed a number of approaches to investigating optimal path for development. During the Fall semester of 2011, PREP's activities included the Global Entrepreneurship Lab led by the Professor Richard Locke in his term as Department Head. As part of this educational program, students explored barriers to entrepreneurship in Puerto Rico and proposed strategies to expand local firms.

Senior faculty, researchers, and graduate students have also embarked on a set of sectoral and thematic studies that aim to provide a conceptual and empirical basis to design new economic development strategies for the Island. These studies focus on manufacturing, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, medical services, and education, among other topics. The research team includes Michael Piore (Political Science and Economics), Gustavo Setrini (Political Science),  Erica Dobbs (Political Science), Maria Victoria del Campo (Urban Studies and Planning), and Alberto Fuentes (Sloan School of Management), and additional researchers throughout the institute. Expected outputs include policy papers and practical ideas for expanding economic activity across distinct sectors of the Puerto Rican Economy.

This research compliments the work led by MIT's Community Innovators Lab, or CoLab, in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, headed by Dayna Cunningham. During the Fall 2011 semester, Professor Diane Davis led a practicum on sustainable community development in Puerto Rico, sponsored by CoLab, which plans to make Puerto Rico a focus for its work on community development, social innovation, and local wealth generation.

MIT’s Puerto Rico Economy Project's first set of working papers have been released. Based on preliminary research carried out during the 2011-12 academic year, these reports examine the Island’s manufacturing, pharmaceutical, agricultural, medical, and education industries—identifying positive development experiences that could provide a basis for broader development strategies. View a summary of the findings as well as the full set of working papers here.