“Soft” slavery in Brazil: Was Gilberto Freyre right?
This article examines the question of the supposedly benign character of Brazilian slavery, in contrast with slavery in North America. In economic analyses of slavery, coercion toward slaves is viewed as a means to achieve maximum output, especially in large-scale agriculture. In small slave holdings, however, coercion was generally inefficient for that purpose, and positive incentives tended to be preferred. It is argued that, as recent evidence on Brazil has shown that small slave holdings prevailed, in various regions and periods, this may lend empirical support to the notion of a relatively benign slavery, using more incentives than coercion.
JEL Classification: N36.
Keywords: slave work Brazil: slavery Brazil: XIX century