200th anniversary of Brazil’s independence: event discusses education, fiscal issues and growth

“Taking a historical perspective helps us understand where we are and it will probably give us clues as to where we should go,” Estevan said as she began the panel discussion.

On Friday, September 30, Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Sao Paulo School of Economics (FGV EESP) held an event to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Brazil’s independence. The meeting brought together specialists to discuss three fundamental topics for the country’s development: education, fiscal issues and growth.

Professor Leonardo Weller of FGV EESP gave the opening remarks. He then handed over to fellow FGV EESP professor Fernanda Estevan, who moderated the first panel discussion, which looked at education. The participants were Professor Renato Colistete of the University of Sao Paulo, Professor Thomas Kang of Rio Grande do Sul Federal University, and Naércio Menezes, who is the coordinator of the Ruth Cardoso Chair at Insper, a higher education institute in Sao Paulo, a researcher at Insper’s Center for Public Management and Policy and the director of its Early Childhood Applied Research Center.

“Taking a historical perspective helps us understand where we are and it will probably give us clues as to where we should go,” Estevan said as she began the panel discussion.

Colistete addressed the topic of public funding of primary education in Brazil in the 19th century. According to him, this subject has not been debated very much in Brazil. In 1905, during the coffee boom, the tax revenue of producing states increased and these resources financed education, especially in Sao Paulo. Kang then commented on the historical context and education policy since the 1930s. On the other hand, Menezes spoke about the recent evolution of education.   

“There was a very serious historical delay in education, which needs to be explained. In the last 30 years, there has been a recovery. Now it’s time to improve learning and we have the resources for that,” Menezes argued.

After the first panel discussion, Professor Luiz Felipe Alencastro of FGV EESP, who is also a professor emeritus at Sorbonne University, Paris, spoke about macroeconomic aspects of work and how it is organized in the South Atlantic. He focused on four main historical moments: when the bipolarization of the Brazilian economy became clear, when Pombal appropriated indigenous policy, the end of the slave trade, and when the job market was metabolized.  

In the afternoon, the second panel discussion explored fiscal issues related to Brazil’s development. Professor Leonardo Weller introduced Thales Pereira and Rafael Cariello, two economic historians who recently launched a book on the fiscal crisis at independence, and Vilma Pinto, the director of the Senate’s Independent Fiscal Institute.

Pereira spoke about his book co-written with Cariello, which addresses Brazil’s fiscal crisis at the time of independence. The author emphasized that Brazilian history is not special, but similar to that of other countries in the period in question.

Pinto then spoke about Brazil’s present fiscal situation. “The pandemic exacerbated the Brazilian economy’s structural problems and caused two new ones: an increase in social inequalities and the resilience of inflation,” she said.

The last panel discussion, about Brazil’s economic growth, was moderated by Professor Luciene Pereira of FGV EESP. The speakers were Professor André Villela of FGV EPGE and Samuel Pessôa, a researcher at FGV IBRE. 

Villela spoke about economic growth in the 19th century, a period that encompassed the Brazilian Empire and the beginning of so-called modern economic growth. Pessôa, on the other hand, commented on economic growth in the 20th century and the period of great stagnation from 1980 until today.

The researcher concluded by saying that “at the very least, macroeconomics indicators need to be in good order, because if they are not, it is hard to have economic growth.”

The event ended with Professor Pereira thanking all the speakers and guests for their presence and summing up the day. “We went from the Brazilian Empire to the present day, talking about growth rates, political and economic choices, causes and consequences,” she said.

Any opinions expressed by Fundação Getulio Vargas’s staff members, duly identified as such, in articles and interviews published in any media, merely represent the opinions of these individuals and do not necessarily represent the institutional viewpoints or opinions of FGV. FGV Directive No. 19 / 2018.