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Earnings Inequalities and Educational Mobility in Brazil over Two Decades


  • Denis Cogneau

    () (DIAL, Paris)

  • Jérémie Gignoux

    () (INED, Paris)


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.

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  • Denis Cogneau & Jérémie Gignoux, 2005. "Earnings Inequalities and Educational Mobility in Brazil over Two Decades," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 121, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:got:iaidps:121

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    Cited by:

    1. 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].
    2. 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.
    3. Castilho, Marta & Menéndez, Marta & Sztulman, Aude, 2012. "Trade Liberalization, Inequality, and Poverty in Brazilian States," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 821-835.
    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. François Bourguignon & Francisco Ferreira & Michael Walton, 2007. "Equity, efficiency and inequality traps: A research agenda," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 5(2), pages 235-256, August.
    6. Ferreira, Francisco H. G. & Walton, Michael, 2006. "Inequality of opportunity and economic development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3816, The World Bank.
    7. 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, June.
    8. repec:dau:papers:123456789/1904 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Equality of opportunities; Labour market; Inequality decomposition; Brazil;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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