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Revisiting Import-Substituting Industrialisation in Post-War Brazil


  • Colistete, Renato P.


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Colistete, Renato P., 2010. "Revisiting Import-Substituting Industrialisation in Post-War Brazil," MPRA Paper 24665, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:24665

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fagerberg, Jan, 2000. "Technological progress, structural change and productivity growth: a comparative study," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 393-411, December.
    2. Sebastian Edwards & Gerardo Esquivel & Graciela Márquez, 2007. "The Decline of Latin American Economies: Growth, Institutions, and Crises," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number edwa04-1, January.
    3. Tito Boeri & J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Vincenzo Galasso, 2012. "The Political Economy Of Flexicurity," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 684-715, August.
    4. Norman Loayza & Pablo Fajnzylber & César Calderón, 2005. "Economic Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean : Stylized Facts, Explanations, and Forecasts," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7315.
    5. Giovanni Dosi & Keith Pavitt & Luc Soete, 1990. "The Economics of Technical Change and International Trade," LEM Book Series, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy, number dosietal-1990.
    6. Valpy Fitzgerald & Pablo Astorga, 2003. "Productivity Growth in Latin America during the Twentieth Century," Economics Series Working Papers 2003-W52, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    7. Syrquin, Moshe, 1988. "Patterns of structural change," Handbook of Development Economics,in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 203-273 Elsevier.
    8. Jagdish N. Bhagwati, 1978. "Anatomy and Consequences of Exchange Control Regimes," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bhag78-1, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Saes, Alexandre Macchione & Loureiro, Felipe Pereira, 2014. "What developing countries' past energy policies can tell us about energy issues today? Lessons from the expropriation of American Foreign and Power in Brazil (1959–1965)," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 36-43.
    2. Jose Peres Cajias & Marc Badia-Miro & Anna Carreras-Marin, 2012. "Intraregional trade in South America, 1913-50. Economic linkages before institutional agreements," Working Papers in Economics 270, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
    3. Dante Aldrighi & Renato P. Colistete, 2013. "Industrial Growth and Structural Change: Brazil in a Long-Run Perspective," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2013_10, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    4. Alexandre Macchione Saes & Felipe Pereira Loureiro, 2012. "From Foreign to State Investment in the Brazilian Electric Power Sector: the Expropriation of the American Foreign and Power in Brazil (1959-1965)," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2012_08, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).

    More about this item


    Import-Substituting Industrialisation; Productivity; Technology; Brazil; Latin America;

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
    • N6 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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