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Race and Income Distribution: Evidence from the USA, Brazil and South Africa


  • Carlos Gradín


The aim of this paper is to provide some empirical evidence about black–white differentials in the distribution of income and wellbeing in three different countries: Brazil, the USA and South Africa. In all cases, people of African descent are in a variety of ways socially disadvantaged compared with the relatively more affluent whites. We investigate the extent of these gaps in comparative perspective, and analyze to what degree they are associated with differences in the observed characteristics of races, such as where they live, the types of household they have, or their performance in the labor market. We undertake this analysis with the Oaxaca–Blinder decomposition at the means and with a propensity score approach at the entire distribution. Our results show how the factors underlying the racial divide vary across countries and income quantiles.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos Gradín, 2014. "Race and Income Distribution: Evidence from the USA, Brazil and South Africa," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 73-92, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:rdevec:v:18:y:2014:i:1:p:73-92

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J82 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Labor Force Composition
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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