Market power on the colonial frontier? evidence from São Paulo 1800-1840

Giovanni Federico, Ricardo Paixao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Economists often assume that agricultural markets in history were competitive, and all producers received the same price. In contrast, most agricultural historians deem prices to differ among agents, according to their social status and «power». This paper tests these opposite views with a database of some 12,500 transactions for the So Paulo area in Brazil in the first decades of the 19th century. Prices received by farmers were positively related to total sales, a proxy for the size of the estate, and also to the share on the relevant market, which measures the market power. These results are consistent with the anecdotal evidence about the growing importance of large slave estates which, however, did not wipe out small household farms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-36
Number of pages20
JournalRevista de Historia Economica - Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Agricultural prices
  • Brazil
  • Early 19 century
  • Market power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics


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