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Between the colonial heritage and the first globalization boom: on income inequality in the Southern Cone*

  • Luis Bértola (a1), Cecilia Castelnovo (a2), Javier Rodríguez (a3) and Henry Willebald (a4)

This paper presents a first estimate of income inequality in the Southern Cone of South America (Brazil 1872 and 1920, Chile 1870 and 1920, Uruguay 1920) and some assumptions with regard to Argentina (1870 and 1920) and Uruguay (1870). We find that income distribution was relatively high on the eve of the first globalization boom. Thus, inequality is not only the result of globalization, but also a structural feature. Inequality increased between 1870 and 1920, both within individual countries and between countries. Globalization forces do not result in obvious outcomes. Rather, the effect of globalization on inequality depends on the expansion of the frontier and institutional persistence and change in old and new areas. Inequality was clearly high in the wake of the globalization process. This was a particular kind of inequality, which was part of a set of institutions closely linked to the exports of primary goods, sluggish technological change and limited human capital formation.

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Revista de Historia Economica - Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History
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  • EISSN: 2041-3335
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