IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

The great divergence: history or path dependence? Results from the Americas

Listed author(s):
  • Steve de Castro


    (Departamento de Economia (Department of Economics) Faculdade de Economia, Administração, Contabilidade e Ciência da Informação e Documentação (FACE) (Faculty of Economics, Administration, Accounting and Information Science) Universidade de Brasília)

Registered author(s):

    This paper synthesizes our results from work on growth in the Americas and especially on the former slave regions. Firstly, we found that significant differences in GDPpp emerged only after slavery was abandoned. At abolition, there was a fall in almost all of them but most started to grow again, some quite rapidly. Secondly, we formalized the notion of history dependence in annual time series of GDP per person as a homogenous Poisson stochastic process and tested the series for Brazil, 1822-2000 and the USA, 1869-1996. The US passed, but Brazil did not, due to its stagnation in the late 19th century. Thirdly the principal-agent theory of the firm is then used to explain the stagnation. By at least the early 19th century, New World slave plantations had evolved some of the mechanisms firms use to supervise the effort of their workers at multiple tasks, which increase productivity. Since abolition meant they had to pay their workers more, then without technical progress or changes in product prices, they may become unviable and the economy can collapse into lower-productivity family farms or worse.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2010
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Departamento de Economia da Universidade de Brasilia in its series Working papers - Textos para Discussao do Departamento de Economia da Universidade de Brasilia with number 333.

    in new window

    Length: 31 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2010
    Handle: RePEc:brs:wpaper:333
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Universidade de Brasília UnB - Campus Universitário Darcy Ribeiro Asa Norte CEP 70910-900, Brasília, Brasil

    Phone: 55-61-3107-6704
    Fax: (61) 340-2311
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:brs:wpaper:333. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Luciano Póvoa)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.