Colonial Institutions, Commodity Booms, and the Diffusion of Elementary Education in Brazil, 1889-1930

Aldo Musacchio, Andre Martinez, Martina Viarengo

NBER Working Paper No. 20029
Issued in April 2014
NBER Program(s):   DAE

We explain how the decentralization of fiscal responsibility among Brazilian states between 1889 and 1930 promoted a unequal expansion in public schooling. We document how the variation in state export tax revenues, product of commodity booms, explains increases in expenditures on education, literacy, and schools per children. Yet we also find that such improvements did not take place in states that either had more slaves before abolition or cultivated cotton during colonial times. Beyond path-dependence, ours story emphasizes the interaction between colonial institutions and subsequent fiscal changes to explain radical changes in the ranking of states which persists until today.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20029

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