Frontier planters, immigrants, and the abolition of slavery in Brazil

Vous êtes ici

Accueil » Frontier planters, immigrants, and the abolition of slavery in Brazil
20 Juin 2021
Types de publication: 
Cahier de recherche
François Seyler
Arthur Silve
Axe de recherche: 
Enjeux économiques et financiers
labor coercion
institutional change
intra-elite conflict
Classification JEL: 

A protracted legislative battle culminated in the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1888. We build a new data set of roll-call votes on 1884-1888 emancipation bills in the legislature, and connect it to local features of the districts. This allows us to unpack how the material interests of each of the 122 electoral districts coalesced into an abolitionist coalition. Our results help reconcile previous theories of labor coercion. We find that slavery-intensive districts opposed emancipation. In line with a labor demand effect, we also find more support for emancipation where immigrants provided an alternative source of labor, and in line with an outside option effect, where enslaved persons could more easily escape. A two-pronged instrumental variables strategy that uses variation in (a) history and geography and (b) heteroskedasticity with respect to the regressors supports a causal interpretation of our main results.


François Seyler : Université Laval.
Arthur Silve : Université Laval.


We thank Daron Acemoglu, Charles Angelucci, José De Sousa, Christian Dippel, Mauricio Drelichman, James Fenske, Claudio Ferraz, Bernard Fortin, Jeffry Frieden, Marion Goussé, Marion Mercier, Christoph Mikulaschek, Eric Rasmusen, Sulin Sardoschau, and participants to seminars at Harvard, at the Vancouver School of Economics, and Paris-1 for comments at various stages of this project. We also thank Leonardo Monasterio for the digitized version of the censuses, and the extremely kind and helpful staff at various archives in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, and Brasilia.