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The Myth of Post-Reform Income Stagnation in Brazil


  • Irineu E de Carvalho Filho
  • Marcos Chamon


This paper uses Engel curves to estimate real income growth in Brazil. The estimated per capita household real income growth in metropolitan areas during 1987-2002 is about 4½ percent per year, well above the "headline" growth of 1½ percent obtained by deflating nominal incomes by the CPI. This suggests a substantial CPI bias during that period, likely owing to one-off effects of trade liberalization and inflation stabilization. The estimated unmeasured gains are higher for poorer households, implying a marked reduction in "real" inequality. This finding challenges the conventional wisdom that post-reform real income growth in Brazil was low.

Suggested Citation

  • Irineu E de Carvalho Filho & Marcos Chamon, 2006. "The Myth of Post-Reform Income Stagnation in Brazil," IMF Working Papers 06/275, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:06/275

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Goni, Edwin & Lopez, Humberto & Serven, Luis, 2006. "Getting realabout inequality : evidence from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3815, The World Bank.
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    3. de Carvalho Filho, Irineu Evangelista, 2008. "Old-age benefits and retirement decisions of rural elderly in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 129-146, April.
    4. Pedro Cavalcanti Ferreira & JosÈ Luiz Rossi, 2003. "New Evidence from Brazil on Trade Liberalization and Productivity Growth," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1383-1405, November.
    5. Timothy Beatty & Erling Røed Larsen, 2005. "Using Engel curves to estimate bias in the Canadian CPI as a cost of living index," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(2), pages 482-499, May.
    6. Easterly, William & Loayza, Norman & Montiel, Peter, 1997. "Has Latin America's post-reform growth been disappointing?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3-4), pages 287-311, November.
    7. Yatchew, A., 1997. "An elementary estimator of the partial linear model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 135-143, December.
    8. Jerry Hausman, 2003. "Sources of Bias and Solutions to Bias in the Consumer Price Index," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 23-44, Winter.
    9. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
    10. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-326, June.
    11. Angus Deaton & Valerie Kozel, 2005. "Data and Dogma: The Great Indian Poverty Debate," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(2), pages 177-199.
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    Cited by:

    1. Manoel Bittencourt, 2007. "Macroeconomic Performance and Inequality: Brazil 1983-1994," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 163, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Bittencourt, Manoel, 2011. "Inflation and financial development: Evidence from Brazil," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 91-99.
    3. Manoel Bittencourt, 2010. "Financial development and inequality: Brazil 1985–1994," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 113-130, May.
    4. Naércio Aquino Menezes Filho & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2007. "Labor Reallocation in Response to Trade Reform," CESifo Working Paper Series 1936, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Irineu De Carvalho Filho & Marcos Chamon, 2008. "A Micro-Empirical Foundation for the Political Economy of Exchange Rate Populism," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 55(3), pages 481-510, July.
    6. Ingvild Almas & Anders Kjelsrud & Rohini Somanathan, 2013. "A Behaviour-Based Approach To The Estimation Of Poverty In India," Working papers 226, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    7. Olinto, Roberto & Pastor, Gonzalo & Rivas, Lisbeth, 2009. "Latin America: highlights from the implementation of the System of National Accounts 1993," Revista CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), December.
    8. Trevon D. Logan, 2008. "Are Engel Curve Estimates of CPI Bias Biased?," NBER Working Papers 13870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Roberto Luis Olinto Ramos & Lisbeth Rivas & Gonzalo C Pastor Campos, 2008. "Latin America; Highlights from the Implementation of the System of National Accounts 1993 (1993 SNA)," IMF Working Papers 08/239, International Monetary Fund.
    10. Ingvild Almas, 2012. "International Income Inequality: Measuring PPP Bias by Estimating Engel Curves for Food," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 1093-1117, April.
    11. Gluzmann, Pablo & Sturzenegger, Federico, 2009. "An Estimation of CPI Biases in Argentina 1985-2005, and its Implications on Real Income Growth and Income Distribution," MPRA Paper 42930, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Manoel F. Bittencourt, 2007. "Inflation and Finance: Evidence from Brazil," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 07/163, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    13. Jeronimo Zettelmeyer, 2006. "Growth and Reforms in Latin America; A Survey of Facts and Arguments," IMF Working Papers 06/210, International Monetary Fund.


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