The Demographic Consequences of the End of Chile's Nitrate Boom, c.1907–1940

Rodrigo Rivero-Cantillano, Juan Navarrete-Montalvo, Cristian Ordenes, Manuel Llorca-Jaña

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This article deals with the demographic consequences of the end of Chile's nitrate boom following the 1929 crisis. The traditional economic historiography has maintained that this crisis impacted heavily on nitrate production, and that in turn the crisis triggered a permanent exodus from the nitrate districts to other geographical zones. Contrary to this widely held belief, we have shown in this article that: there was no substantial fall in production; there was indeed a fall in nitrate population, but this was limited; this took place in some nitrate areas only; overall, the decline in nitrate population was a short term phenomenon only. The population making a living from nitrate production (or activities directly related to it) did not emigrate in as large numbers as previously thought, since production remained high up to the 1960s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-499
Number of pages17
JournalBulletin of Latin American Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Chile
  • Great Depression
  • Nitrate era
  • demography
  • migration


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