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On the Origins of ISI: The Latin American Cement Industry, 1900–30


This article explores the achievements of industrialisation in Latin America in the period before 1930, the date traditionally considered to be the start of the ISI process. It analyses the development of a basic industrial sector, the cement industry, which was driven by a natural substitution of imports. It quantifies the expansion of demand in each of the countries in the region, and then moves on to consider the growth of the industry in Latin America in the period between 1900 and 1930. Although cement consumption grew briskly, particularly in the most underdeveloped economies, disparities in levels of consumption and production among countries in the region continued to be very great in 1930, while the gap between Latin America and the most industrialised economies grew slightly.

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This article is the result of research conducted for the project, Importaciones y modernización económica en América Latina, 1890–1960, financed by the Spanish Ministry for Science and Technology (BEC2003–0190). It has benefited from help given by José Jofré, Frank Notten and Carolina Román in collecting data on exports from industrialised nations. I would like to thank my colleagues and research team members – Albert Carreras, Mauricio Folchi, Mar Rubio, and César Yáñez – for their insightful comments. Also, many thanks to the four anonymous JLAS referees who commented on the initial draft of the article.
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Journal of Latin American Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-216X
  • EISSN: 1469-767X
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-latin-american-studies
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