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The Mystery of Discrimination in Latin America


  • Alberto Chong


  • Hugo Ñopo



In this paper we focus on a particular family of studies, namely, wage gaps decompositions. Numerous efforts have focused on documenting earnings differentials between females and males, indigenous and nonindigenous people, or Afro-descendants and whites. As the pieces of the literature that we survey in this section show, comparisons of hourly labor earnings (wages or self-employment income) suggest the existence of notorious gaps. However, non-indigenous (or male) workers exhibit human capital characteristics that are, on average, more desirable than those of indigenous (or female) workers. Examples of those characteristics include education, labor market experience, and field of specialization. To attribute the whole earnings gap to the existence of labor market discrimination would therefore be misleading. At least a component of the gap can be attributed to differences in observable human capital characteristics that the labor market rewards and, hence, is not attributable to the existence of discrimination. Blinder and Oaxaca were the first to explore this avenue of research, in which the profession has been able to identify, to some extent, the magnitude of this component

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Chong & Hugo Ñopo, 2008. "The Mystery of Discrimination in Latin America," ECONOMIA JOURNAL, THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION - LACEA, vol. 0(Spring 20), pages 79-115, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000425:008611

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    Cited by:

    1. Branko Milanovic & Carlos Gradín, 2016. "Race, Ethnicity, Immigration, and Living Conditions in Costa Rica," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 62, pages 90-119, August.
    2. Pasquier-Doumer, Laure & Risso Brandon, Fiorella, 2015. "Aspiration Failure: A Poverty Trap for Indigenous Children in Peru?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 208-223.
    3. Florencia Lopez-Boo, 2008. "How Do Crises Affect Schooling Decisions? Evidence from Changing Labor Market Opportunities and a Policy Experiment," Research Department Publications 4602, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    4. Hugo Nopo & Natalia Winder, 2008. "Etnicidad y acumulación de capital humano en México Urbano," Research Department Publications 4620, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.

    More about this item


    Discrimination; propensity score matching; Latin America;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing


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