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Deconstructing the Decline in Inequality in Latin America

Author

Listed:
  • Nora Lustig

    (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • Luis F. Lopez-Calva

    (Poverty and Gender Unit, Latin America and the Caribbean Vice-presidency, World Bank)

  • Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez

    (Poverty, Human Development and Millennium Development Goal Unit, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP))

Abstract

Inequality in Latin America unambiguously declined in the 2000s. The Gini coefficient fell in 14 of the 17 countries where there is comparable data, and the change was statistically significant for all of them. Existing studies point to two main explanations for the decline in inequality: a reduction in hourly labor income inequality, and more robust and progressive government transfers. Available evidence suggests that it is the skill premium--or, more precisely, the returns to primary, secondary and tertiary education vs. no schooling or incomplete primary schooling--that drives the decline in hourly labor income inequality. The causes behind the decline in returns to schooling, however, have not been unambiguously established. Some studies find that returns fell because of an increase in the supply of workers with more educational attainment; others, because of a shift in demand away from skilled-labor.

Suggested Citation

  • Nora Lustig & Luis F. Lopez-Calva & Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez, 2013. "Deconstructing the Decline in Inequality in Latin America," Working Papers 1314, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1314
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    inequality; skill premium; government transfers; Latin America;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean

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