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The Contribution of Railways to Economic Growth in Latin America before 1914: the cases of Mexico, Brazil and Argentina


  • Alfonso Herranz-Loncán

    () (Departament d’Història i Institucions Econòmiques, Universitat de Barcelona)


This paper presents preliminary estimates of the contribution of the railway technology to GDP growth in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico before 1914, and compares them with the available figures for two European economies (Britain and Spain). The results of the estimation indicate that the growth contribution of railways was substantially higher in those three Latin American economies than in Britain or Spain, although in Argentina and Mexico that high contribution was disguised behind the fast growth of the aggregate economy. This result is interpreted as a sign of the central role that the railways performed in the export-led growth episode of those three economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Alfonso Herranz-Loncán, 2009. "The Contribution of Railways to Economic Growth in Latin America before 1914: the cases of Mexico, Brazil and Argentina," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 0903, Asociacion Espa–ola de Historia Economica.
  • Handle: RePEc:ahe:dtaehe:0903

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    1. Rosa Duarte & Vicente Pinilla & Ana Serrano, 2014. "Looking backward to look forward: water use and economic growth from a long-term perspective," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(2), pages 212-224, January.
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    3. Santiago-Caballero, Carlos, 2013. "Trapped By Nature: Provincial Grain Yields In Spain In The Mid 18th Century," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(03), pages 359-386, December.
    4. Alfonso Herranz Loncán, 2004. "La dotación de infraestructuras en España, (1844-1935)," Estudios de Historia Económica, Banco de España;Estudios de Historia Económica Homepage, number 45, December.
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    9. Ernesto Clar & Raúl Serrano & Vicente Pinilla, 2015. "El comercio agroalimentario español en la segunda globalización, 1951-2011," Historia Agraria. Revista de Agricultura e Historia Rural, Sociedad Española de Historia Agraria, issue 65, pages 149-186, april.
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    11. Miguel Martín-Retortillo & Vicente Pinilla, 2013. "Patterns and causes of growth of European agricultural production, 1950-2005," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1302, Asociacion Espa–ola de Historia Economica.
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    More about this item


    railways; Latin America; Growth Contribution; Internal Transport; Export-Led Growth;

    JEL classification:

    • N76 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation

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