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How a Nation is Born: Reconstructing Four Centuries of Brazilian Economic Growth


This project reconstructs series for Brazil’s population, prices, wages, welfare ratios, gross domestic product (GDP), and GDP per capita from the seventeenth century to 1920. This is the first reconstruction of consistent, annual population and economic series for this period and will change the understanding that we have today of Brazil’s historical economic growth. This project will be conducted at the Institute of Social Sciences (ICS) of the University of Lisbon, under the supervision of Nuno Palma, with Jaime Reis as a member of the board. Long-run GDP per capita series are central to economic growth research, to test competing hypotheses about why nations grow and decline, and for main debates in comparative historical development, such as the great divergence and the colonial origins debates. Until today, however, Brazil has been excluded from these areas of research. This project intends to bridge this gap using known figures in the literature, recently digitized archival sources, and novel archival research in the Overseas Historical Archive and the Torre do Tombo National Archive in Portugal. In addition to providing the first series of four centuries of Brazilian economic growth, it will contribute to a number of debates in the specialized and interdisciplinary literatures and generate open-access databases with the reconstructed time series.

Call for proposal

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Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF
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Av Prof Anibal De Bettencourt 9
1600 189 Lisboa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 159 815,04