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THE NORTH–SOUTH DIVIDE: REAL WAGES AND WELFARE IN BRAZIL DURING THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY

  • Thales Augusto Zamberlan Pereira (a1)

Abstract

What was the degree of Brazil's regional inequality in living standards during the first decades of the 20th century? This paper presents municipal and state information on wages and prices in order to build welfare ratios for skilled and unskilled workers between 1912 and 1940. Despite the significant differences in nominal wages and costs of living throughout the country, real wage differentials remained lower than those estimated by earlier studies. Williamson (1999) argued that real wages in the Southeast were approximately six times higher than in the Northeast during the 1930s. The new evidence in this paper suggests that wages were on average only 1.5 times higher.

¿Cuál fue el tamaño de la desigualdad regional en los niveles de vida de Brasil durante las primeras décadas del siglo XX? Este artículo presenta información municipal y estatal sobre salarios y precios con el fin de construir índices de bienestar para trabajadores cualificados y no cualificados entre 1912 y 1940. A pesar de diferencias significativas en los salarios nominales y coste de la vida en todo el país, las diferencias de los salarios reales se muestran inferiores a las estimadas en estudios anteriores. Williamson (1999) argumentó que los salarios reales en el sureste eran aproximadamente seis veces más altos que en el noreste durante la década de 1930. La nueva evidencia presentada en este artículo sugiere que los salarios fueron en promedio solo 1,5 veces más altos.

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Footnotes

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a

Department of Economics. thales.pereira@ufn.edu.br

I am grateful for the comments and suggestions from Svante Prado, Jakob Molinder, Renato Colistete, Leonardo Monasterio, Marcelo Medeiros, Luis Bértola, Kara Dimitruk, participants in the 5th Brazilian Economic History Workshop at INSPER, and participants in the «Contrasting Development Paths in Latin America and Scandinavia: What Can We Learn?» session at the World Economic History Congress in Boston.

Footnotes

References

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