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Volume 57 / Social Sciences


MELISSA H. BIRCH, School of Business, University of Kansas
RUSSELL E. SMITH, School of Business, Washburn University

THE OPENING OF THE BRAZILIAN ECONOMY, beginning in 1990 with the Collor government’s neoliberal reforms, the apparent victory of the Real Plan of 1994 over (hyper)inflation, and the established pattern of economic growth within a relatively open economy shifted the focus of Brazilian economic literature from a preoccupation with macroeconomic stabilization to a broad consideration of emerging, as well as, traditional themes. Emerging themes include the impact of the open economy (including the common market of the South, Mercosul), increased international competitive pressure following forty years of import-substitution-industrialization, and the reform of the Brazilian State. More traditional themes include regional development income distribution, labor policies and labor markets, agriculture, and Brazilian economic history.

The creation of Mercosul, the regional economic integration project negotiated between 1991 and 1994 with Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, has spawned a considerable amount of new, increasingly complex literature that covers nearly all areas of economic activity and regulation. The more general works examine Mercosul in relation to other international trade treaties such as GATT and ALADI (item bi 96005350). More focused studies examine Brazil’s relations with its South American and North American neighbors within this new regional context (items bi 95021684 and bi 97000687). In addition, Mercosul’s impact on already existing Brazilian regional disparities is also studied (item bi 95006627). The construction of Mercosul’s legal framework is analyzed (items bi 94016566 and bi 96009557), as are the regulation of investment in the four countries (item bi 94009573), and the impacts on specific sectors, including agriculture (items bi 96015068 and bi 95022779) and the automobile industry (item bi 96009562).

The post-1990 open economy was accompanied by a heightened concern with productivity issues, as reflected in broad analyses of the competitive position of Brazilian industries within the world economy (items bi 97006170 and bi 96022298), and industrial distribution and productivity change in the state of S˜ao Paulo (item bi 97006124). The open economy impacted regional development by increasing international linkages (item bi 97006106) and by assigning a role for Mercosul in the reconcentration of economic activities in southeastern and southern Brazil (item bi 96022090). Reform of the State, which paralleled the economic opening, is evident in analyses of economic stabilization and public policy in general (item bi 97006136), the Real Plan (item bi 97006166), tax policy (items bi 97006151 and bi 97006092), social security reform (item bi 95023923), privatization (item bi 97006086), and the role of the State investment banks (item bi 97006144). Other policy issues are studied in the context of the post-1950 import-substitution-industrialization period, including US investment (item bi 97006110), indexation (item bi 97006149), the relationship between public and private sectors (item bi 95007955), the ethanol program (item bi 96009855, bi 95014518), and the Carajas project (item bi 95015235). Some works provide especially valuable data on exchange rates (item bi 97006140) and recent economic and social conditions (item bi 97006143).

Income distribution inequality is one of the most durable themes in Brazilian economic development. Studies for Brazil as a whole (items bi 95006626 and bi 96008237) and for the Rio de Janeiro and S˜ao Paulo metropolitan areas in particular (item bi 96008065), indicate that income distribution worsens, or at best stays the same, regardless of macroeconomic conditions. The minimum wage is found have limited use as a tool to counter poverty and income inequality (item bi 96008235). Other labor market themes considered include labor market flexibility and adjustment (items bi 97006109 and bi 95007671), agricultural labor (items bi 97006128 and bi 96022336), and wage determination (items bi 95022193 and bi 95022476). Numerous studies examine various aspects of the household labor-supply decision, often based on household data from the Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicilios (items bi 96003770, bi 95001409, bi 94011132 and bi 96008441). Historical analyses consider technology, infrastructure, and industrialization (item bi 97006131), and the Japanese role in Brazilian economic development (item bi 97006082).

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