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date: 01 December 2020

The Brazilian Economy in the 20th Centurylocked

  • Herbert S. KleinHerbert S. KleinDepartment of History, Columbia University; The Hoover Institution, Stanford University
  •  and Francisco Vidal LunaFrancisco Vidal LunaSchool of Economics, University of São Paulo


The 20th century represents a crucial period in Brazil’s economic history, when an agrarian, rural-dominated society became an urban, industrialized country with a complex financial sector and a large service sector. This economic transformation fueled by coffee exports led to profound demographic and social changes as millions of European and Asian immigrants were integrated into Brazilian society, followed by a massive shift of native-born migrants from the northeast to the dynamic southeast of Brazil, particularly for the state of São Paulo, which became the richest, most industrialized, and most populous state of the nation. The second half of the 20th century saw the creation of a modern industrial sector and the modernization of national agriculture, which in the 21st century made Brazil one of the most important producers of grain and animal protein in the world.

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