Economic Performance in the Americas
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Economic Performance in the Americas

The Role of the Service Sector in Brazil, Mexico and the USA

Nanno Mulder

Economic Performance in the Americas compares the economic performances of Brazil, Mexico and the USA over the past half century. As with most other high and middle-income countries their economies are service-sector orientated and have been for several decades. This book encompasses all sectors of the economy but focuses primarily on services, analysing both the main trends in the various service industries in Brazil and Mexico and the underlying forces shaping their huge expansion.
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Chapter 5: Wholesale and Retail Trade

Nanno Mulder


LONG-TERM TRENDS (i) Employment and GDP In the USA the share of distributive services in total employment increased from 6.1 per cent in 1870 (the frrst year for which this information is available) to 16.4 per cent in 1950. There was a rising proportion of female employment (Barger, 1955). In Brazil and Mexico, where information has been available since 1900, there have been similar trends. The share of distribution in the labour force increased from 3.2 per cent in 1900 to 5.6 per cent in 1950 in Brazil, and fiom 5.1 to 8.3 per cent in Mexico.’ Since 1950 the distributive share of employment in Brazil and Mexico has converged towards the level of the USA (see Figure 5. I). In 1996 the shares were 15 per cent for Brazil, 18 per cent for Mexico and 22 per cent for the USA. (Informal) distribution often provides a haven for those who cannot find work in other sectors. As a result distribution employment increases even in times of recession. This happened in Brazil and Mexico during the ‘lost decade’ of the 1980s. The distributive share of GDP has shown an opposite trend to that of employment. In the USA it decreased from 18 per cent in 19502 to 15 per cent in 1996, in Brazil from about 15 to 8 per cent and in Mexico fiom about 25 to 17 per cent. A similar trend has been found in Europe (Fitzgerald and Knipper, 1993). (ii) Establishments The earliest year for which...

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