The Gini coefficient of labour earnings in Brazil fell by 20% between 1995 and 2012, from 0.5 to 0.4. The decline was even larger by other measures, with the 90-10 percentile ratio falling by almost 40%. Although the conventional explanation of falling returns to education did play a role, a RIF regression-based decomposition analysis suggests that substantial reductions in the gender, race and spatial wage gaps, conditional on human capital and institutional variables, explain the lion’s share of the decline in earnings inequality. Lower male, white, urban and Southeast wage premia, alongside lower formal-informal wage gaps, account for 6.3 of the ten Gini points difference between 1995 and 2012. Although rising minimum wages contributed to the decline during 2004-2012, they had no such effect during 1995-2002.
Ferreira, F.H.G.; Firpo, S.P.; Messina, J. IRIBA Working Paper 12: A more level playing field? Explaining the decline in earnings inequality in Brazil, 1995-2012. International Research Initiative on Brazil and Africa (IRIBA), University of Manchester, Manchester, UK (2014) 30 pp.