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Is all Socioeconomic Inequality among Racial Groups in Brazil Caused by Racial Discrimination?


  • Rafael Guerreiro Osório

    () (International Poverty Centre)


This Working Paper addresses the issue of whether current racial discrimination is the decisive determinant of the wide and persistent inequalities in socioeconomic conditions between Whites and Blacks in Brazil. The paper highlights three main conclusions. The first is that factors, such as region of residence, parental education and household income, together, are responsible for the major proportion of the racial gaps that are observed today, but that racial discrimination remains a major source of inequalities among racial groups. The second conclusion is that whenever educational outcomes, such as literacy, can be easily attained, the ceteris paribus effect of race on the probability of attainment is small and diminishes as household income increases; but when outcomes are more difficult to attain, such as for secondary or higher education, the racial gap is large and increases with income. In other words, the effects of racial discrimination tend to be amplified when Black Brazilians are competing with White Brazilians for highly valued but low-supply social resources, such as higher levels of education. The third conclusion is that although younger age cohorts of Black Brazilians are advancing relative to their parents and to the Brazilian population as a whole, they are not advancing relative to their own age cohort. Thus, although younger age cohorts might be advancing relative to older age cohorts, young Black Brazilians remain in the same relative position vis-à-vis young White Brazilians as older generations of Blacks did vis-à-vis Whites. Thus, in a relative sense, there has been virtually no social mobility for Black Brazilians in the last three decades.

Suggested Citation

  • Rafael Guerreiro Osório, 2008. "Is all Socioeconomic Inequality among Racial Groups in Brazil Caused by Racial Discrimination?," Working Papers 43, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
  • Handle: RePEc:ipc:wpaper:43

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hasenbalg, Carlos, 2006. "Ciclo de vida y desigualdades raciales en Brasil," Documentos de Proyectos 4110, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    2. Campante, Filipe R. & Crespo, Anna R. V. & Leite, Phillippe G. P. G., 2004. "Desigualdade Salarial entre Raças no Mercado de Trabalho Urbano Brasileiro: Aspectos Regionais," Revista Brasileira de Economia - RBE, FGV EPGE - Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil), vol. 58(2), April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frances Stewart, 2009. "Horizontal Inequality: Two Types of Trap," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 315-340.

    More about this item


    Racial Discrimination; Educational Attainment; Intergenerational Mobility.;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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