Renato Perim Colistete, Professor of Economics, FEA-USP
Colistete examines the concentration of land ownership in the northeastern part of the state of São Paulo, Brazil, the leading coffee export region in the early twentieth century. Critics of the so-called plantationist perspective have rejected the classic view that large estates shaped colonial and nineteenth century Brazilian economy and society, arguing instead that a major role was played by small and medium-sized landholdings. We describe the size distribution of landholdings and estimate alternative measures of land concentration based on a detailed agricultural census of the state of São Paulo. We find that, despite variations across municipalities, large farms and latifundia controlled most of the productive resources in northeast São Paulo, resulting in high levels of inequality when compared to those of other agrarian societies in the past. These results contrast with the views of the critics of classic historiography and suggest that the large estates and high levels of concentration of wealth were in fact characteristic features of the most important coffee region in Brazil during the early twentieth century.
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Download File: Plantation-xa-x5g.pdf
Sponsor(s): Center for Brazilian Studies
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