Who Prospers? How Cultural Values Shape Economic and Political Success

By Lawrence E. Harrison | Go to book overview

1
Brazil Immigrant Entrepreneurs Drive Growth

Between 1920 and 1988 the average growth rate of GDP per capita in Brazil was 3.4 percent [among the highest in the world]. -- Eliana Cardoso, "Debt Cycles in Brazil and Argentina," 1991

Brazil's social welfare indicators are strikingly low. . . . In the northeast of Brazil [infant mortality] is higher than in much of Sub-Saharan Africa. . . . Only 21 percent of Brazilian children attend secondary school, compared to 90 percent in Korea. --Ibid.

Despite narrowly oligarchic and corrupt government, Brazil prospered. Following the abolition of slavery, immigration flowed from Europe. . . . Their numbers were never comparable to those going to the United States . . . and . . . Argentina, but they were largely responsible for the growth of industry. -- Robert Wesson and David V. Fleischer, Brazil in Transition ( 1983)

Since I started working with development problems in Latin America in the early 1960s, people have been telling me that Brazil is different. It is obviously different by virtue of its size: larger than the forty-eight contiguous American states; larger than Australia; more than two-and-a-half times larger than India; three times larger than Argentina. But what people who know Brazil usually mean is that Brazilians have certain qualities that make them different from other Latin Americans. A senior American diplomat describes dealing with Brazilian foreign ministry officials as comparable to dealing with Western European professionals. An American businessman who experienced great frustration in other Latin American countries calls his visits to Brazil a breath of fresh air, comparable to working with private-sector people in the most advanced countries. The New York Times's Marlise Simons, who has lived in Brazil and Mexico for a number of years, described Brazilians to me as being like Americans in their optimism, can-do attitude, and belief in the future--and

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