Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Douglas V. Davidson

Second Advisor

Dr. Subhash Sonnad

Third Advisor

Dr. Gerald Markle

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Donald Cooney


Puerto Rico is presently facing serious economic and social problems which are characteristic of a neocolony. Many of these problems are associated with Puerto Rico's historical path of industrial development adopted in 1940s. This study, therefore, focuses on economic and development policies implemented in Puerto Rico since the early 1900s and the political and economic role the U.S. has played in such policies.

To understand Puerto Rico's structural problems, a theoretical framework has been developed. This framework combines developmentalist theories such as modernization, dependency, capitalist world economy and indigenous Puerto Rican theorizing. These theories have been critically assessed for their applicability in shedding light on the Puerto Rican paradox. It is expected that this theoretical framework will explain the specific problems related to Puerto Rico's present situation and the process that led to the creation of its controversial commonwealth status.

This study was based on the content analysis of available literature. These data showed that, structural factors such as monopolistic capitalism, the activities of the transnational corporations and of interest groups, colonialism and neocolonialism have influenced the ill-conceived economic development model adopted in Puerto Rico. The data also showed that organizational factors such as world capitalist order, the cold-war, the expansionism of U.S. transnational, and U.S. world political economy were decisive in the creation of the current state of Puerto Rico. The theoretical framework outlined in this study can be further refined and expanded utilizing such research methods. A study of modernization, acculturation, and rapid industrialization processes tinder a colonial form of government could contribute to sociological research in the field of development, and to the processes of dependency, unemployment, migration and the absence of national prerogatives.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access