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Earnings inequalities and educational mobility in Brazil over two decades


Author Info

  • Denis Cogneau

    (DIAL, IRD, Paris)

  • Jérémie Gignoux

    (INED, IEP-Paris, Université Paris-IX Dauphine, LEA/INRA)


This paper studies the impact of changes in educational opportunities on various definitions of labour market inequalities in Brazil over two decades (1976-96). Using four editions of the nationally representative PNAD survey, we analyze the evolution of overall inequalities and inequalities of opportunity in 40-49 year old males’ earnings. We design and implement semiparametric decompositions of the respective effects of (i) schooling expansion, (ii) changes in the structure of earnings, and (iii) changes in intergenerational educational mobility. Earnings inequalities varied little over the period, with a peak in the late 1980s that can be imputed to hyperinflation. First of all, the decompositions show that changes in the distribution of education contributed to the increase in both overall earnings inequalities and inequalities of opportunity among the oldest generations, before sharply reducing them among the post-WWII cohorts. Secondly, the decrease in returns to education also contributed to equalizing labour market opportunities in the 1988-96 period. Thirdly and lastly, the changes in educational mobility were not large enough to significantly affect earnings inequalities, whereas it is shown that they should play a prominent role in equalizing opportunities in the future. _________________________________ Ce papier étudie les conséquences des changements dans les opportunités scolaires sur plusieurs définitions des inégalités sur le marché du travail au Brésil sur deux décennies. En utilisant quatre éditions de l’enquête nationale représentative PNAD, nous analysons l’évolution des inégalités globales et de l’inégalité des chances de rémunérations des hommes de 40 à 49 ans. Nous construisons et mettons en oeuvre des décompositions semi-paramétriques des effets respectifs de (i) l’expansion de la scolarisation (ii) les changements dans la structure des rémunérations, et (iii) les changements dans la mobilité scolaire intergénérationnelles. Les inégalités de rémunération ont peu varié sur l’ensemble de la période, avec un pic à la fin des années 1980 attribuable à l’hyperinflation. Premièrement, les décompositions montrent que les changements dans la distribution de l’éducation ont contribué à l’accroissement des inégalités de rémunération globales et de l’inégalité des chances dans les générations les plus anciennes, avant de les réduire fortement parmi les cohortes nées dans l’aprèsguerre. Deuxièmement, la baisse des rendements de l’éducation a aussi contribué à égaliser les opportunités sur le marché du travail pendant la période 1988-96. Troisièmement et enfin, les évolutions de la mobilité scolaire n’ont pas été suffisamment importantes pour affecter significativement les inégalités de rémunération, alors qu’il est montré qu’elles devraient jouer un rôle primordial pour l’égalisation des opportunités dans le futur.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation) in its series Working Papers with number DT/2005/03.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200503

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Keywords: Equality of opportunities; Labour market; Inequality decomposition; Brazil; Egalité des chances; Marché du travail; Décomposition des inégalités; Brésil;

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Cited by:
  1. Jose Cuesta & Hugo Ñopo & Georgina Pizzolitto, 2011. "Using Pseudo‐Panels To Measure Income Mobility In Latin America," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 57(2), pages 224-246, 06.
  2. Fábio Domingues Waltenberg, 2011. "Two procedures forassessing inequality of educational opportunities in Brazil," Anais do XXXVII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 37th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 198, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  3. François Bourguignon & Francisco Ferreira & Michael Walton, 2007. "Equity, efficiency and inequality traps: A research agenda," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 235-256, August.
  4. Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Jérémie Gignoux, 2011. "The Measurement Of Inequality Of Opportunity: Theory And An Application To Latin America," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 57(4), pages 622-657, December.
  5. Marta Castilho & Marta Menéndez & Aude Sztulman, 2009. "Trade liberalization, inequality and poverty in Brazilian states," Working Papers halshs-00574996, HAL.
  6. Guillermo Cruces & Marcelo Bérgolo & Andriana Conconi & Andrés Ham, 2012. "Are there Etchnic Inequality Traps in Education ? Empirical Evidence for Brazil and Chile," Working Papers PMMA 2012-05, PEP-PMMA.
  7. Ferreira, Francisco H. G. & Walton, Michael, 2006. "Inequality of opportunity and economic development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3816, The World Bank.


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