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An Economic and Demographic History of Sao Paulo, 1850-1950


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Contents and Abstracts1Sao Paulo Agriculture in the Nineteenth Century chapter abstract

Describes the origin, growth and eventual domination of the coffee economy in the state, and the role coffee production played in the entire paulista economy. How coffee was grown, the nature of the coffee plantations, their changing labor force from slave to free labor are the themes analyzed. The impact of the railroad construction in the second half of the nineteenth century is examined and its role in creating a coherent internal market and promoting foreign trade. Finally the place of Sao Paulo coffee production on the international market is examined.

2Government and Public Finance in the Empire, 1850-1889 chapter abstract

The explosive growth of coffee, along with increasing sugar and cotton production, allowed the provincial government to establish a significant tax base. In turn this allowed it to create a viable provincial government which could begin providing basic infrastructural development for this province. This development would include everything from establishing a significant taxing bureaucracy and state judicial and legislative system, to providing the funds to develop the crucial infrastructure needed to export coffee. Taxes on agriculture were the key factors which allowed the state to develop roads and railroads, to begin providing potable water and public illumination for its cities and schools for its children, along with providing health and public safety for the province as whole.

3Government and Public Finance in the Old Republic, 1889-1930 chapter abstract

The failures of the provincial government of Sao Paulo convinced the Sao Paulo elite of the need to create a more powerful and autonomous state government once the Republic was proclaimed. How this new regime was established after 1889 is the main theme of the chapter. It shows how the state government was rapidly equipped with professional administrators who in turn would develop a modern state structure in everything from education and public health to its own military force. Quickly this state government emerged as the most powerful and modern in Republican Brazil.

4Paulista Agriculture, 1899-1950 chapter abstract

The growth of this powerful state government to 1930 would be crucial to the survival of Sao Paulo agriculture in the next half century. The secular growth of the coffee economy up to the end of the 19th century was spectacular. But the constant incorporation of ever more virgin lands into this coffee economy created problems of overproduction as the state alone produced more coffee than the world market could consume. The paulista planters had difficulty responding to these market signals and in the end required significant assistance from the new state government to control crop output. This direct intervention of both the state and federal governments in the coffee economy, defines paulista agriculture in the 20th century.

5Crisis of the State and the Loss of Hegemony of the Paulista Elite chapter abstract

This chapter analyzes the impact of the international crisis of 1930 on the Brazilian economy and Government. It shows how the liberal federalist system that was developed from 1889-1930 was destroyed and replaced by an authoritarian, centralist and interventionist regime thus breaking the power hold of the paulista elite on the central government and even reducing their control over the state government.

6The State in National and International Commerce chapter abstract

How the state economy was integrated into the world market is the basic question analyzed in this chapter. The rise of Santos as an international port is a key concern, as well as the impact of steamship arrivals and their role as importers of labor and goods and exporters of coffee. The nature of the state's international trade is examined in the 20th century. Also studied is the emergence of airplanes, automobiles, and trucks as a new transport within the state along with the impact and growth of the telegraph and the telephone.

7Industrial Growth in Sao Paulo chapter abstract

While the creation of a dynamic agricultural economy was explained by the extraordinary quality of the soils of the state and their excellent conditions for the growth of coffee, the same was not the case with industry. But how such industrial capital was generated and the role of native and foreign capital explains how this occurred. The existence of an educated foreign born labor force was another factor. The chapter covers all the primary industries created before 1950 and how the state's industries came to control a large share of the nation's industrial work force.

8Infrastructure and Urbanization of the State chapter abstract

The creation of a modern communications network, the construction of a massive hydroelectric complex and the birth of a major world metropolis from a previously undistinguished urban center are the themes examined. All of these developments were made possible by major investments of the state and of the private sector in the basic infrastructure. State public works in everything from purified water and sanitation to paved roads and higher educational institutions were crucial in developing the major urban centers.

9Population Growth and Structure chapter abstract

The impact of births, deaths and migration on the growth of the population of Sao Paulo is examined. The causes for the changing levels of fertility and mortality are studied, as well as the social and demographic integration of European and Asian migrants. The question of literacy and its change by sex and urban and rural populations are basic themes as well. Finally the rise of secondary cities as the frontier closes is also a major concern that is examined.

Conclusion chapter abstract

This chapter examines the basic themes discussed in the book and the major conclusions reached which explain the rise of Sao Paulo to its important leadership position. We stress the importance of coffee, the role of the state in promoting the economy, the impact of immigration and the infrastructure established which enabled the state to become the leading economy in the second half of the 20th century

About the Author

Francisco Vidal Luna is Professor of Economics at Universidade de Sao Paulo. Herbert S. Klein is the Gouveneur Morris Professor Emeritus at Columbia University and Research Fellow and Curator at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. They are co-authors of Slavery and the Economy of Sao Paolo, 1750-1850 (Stanford, 2003).


"A major undertaking by two eminent scholars on one of the most important regions in Latin America. Weaving together rich scholarship, original research, and extensive historical data, Luna and Klein offer a sorely-needed synthesis of the facets that contributed to Sao Paulo's evolution from modest agricultural province into Brazil's economic leader. This accessible volume offers an excellent case for comparative research on the developing world and areas of recent settlement, and will be welcomed by historians of Brazil and Latin America." -- Anne Hanley * Northern Illinois University *
"An Economic and Demographic History of Sao Paulo, 1850-1950is animportant accomplishment and a welcome addition to the literature on the history of Sao Paulo. Besides a comprehensive survey of the factors behind Sao Paulo's impressive growth, the book is also a successful attempt at historical and historiographical synthesis, one that covers many decades of literature and establishes a serious dialogue with Brazilian historiography and social science literature." -- Paula Vedoveli * H-LatAm *

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