RHI Seminar: The Effects of Immigration in an Agricultural Frontier Economy: Brazil 1890-1920

We happily invite you to the RHI Seminar of January. Our speaker for this month is Dr. Andrea Papadia (University of York). He will be presenting his paper titled: The Effects of Immigration in an Agricultural Frontier Economy: Brazil 1890-1920

The seminar will take place in room B0077 in the Leeuwenborch. Hope to see you there!

Organised by Economic and Environmental History

Thu 12 January 2023 16:00 to 17:15

Venue Leeuwenborch, building number 201
Room B0077


How does migration affect the economic development in the receiving country? We contribute to answering this question by investigating the impact of European migration on the agricultural sector in Brazil during the Age of Mass Migration, specifically the period 1890-1920. Brazil was one of the largest recipients of European migrants in this period and over 70% of its workforce worked in agriculture. To achieve causal identification, we exploit the staggered roll-out of the rail network in combination with aggregate inflows of migrants to instrument the geographical distribution of migrant settlement across Brazil. The strategy relies on several large shocks unrelated to local economic conditions affecting aggregate migratory flows. Our results indicate that immigration strongly boosted the agricultural sector, as evidenced by higher agricultural land prices in areas where more migrants settled. This in part explained by a more intensive cultivation of the land. We investigate a large number of possible channels, including changes to the labour supply, land ownership, land quality, the crop mix, market potential, and capital intensity, finding that these are unable to explain our results. Instead, we find that human capital and structural change are likely to explain at least part of our findings.