Revisiting Import-Substituting Industrialisation in Post-War Brazil
This article reassesses the classic period of Import-Substituting Industrialisation (ISI) in Brazil between 1945 and 1979. New data presented here show that Brazilian industry achieved significant labour productivity growth during the post-war years and became more technologically sophisticated, when measured by manufacturing exports and evidence of specific industries and firms. We also found that Brazil’s labour productivity growth lagged behind what was achieved in other industrialising and developed countries from the mid-1970s. Technological advances were slow and uneven, and most firms relatively backward. Overall these results suggest that a highly heterogeneous structure became a major feature of Brazilian industrialisation, rather than widespread inefficiency and technological stagnation as argued by the dominant interpretation of ISI in Latin America.
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