Persistence and determinants of income inequality: The Brazilian case

Document Type



Brazil; income inequality; Latin America

Identifier Data



John Wiley & Sons

Publication Source

Review of Development Economics


Latin America, which is a region known for its high and persistent income inequality levels, experienced a significant decline in income inequality since the second half of the 1990s. Brazil is a particularly interesting case in Latin America. While the country presented notable economic growth and improvements in income distribution in the early 2000s, Brazil continues to experience high levels of income inequality in comparison with other Latin American or advanced economies. This research contributes to the literature by examining the key drivers of income distribution and the degree of persistence of income inequality among Brazilian states. This research also improves upon previous works by using more recent and comprehensive data and addressing concerns regarding heterogeneity and endogeneity by using the system GMM estimation method. Our findings show that income inequality is highly persistent across Brazilian states and that government policies including income transfer programs made important contributions to reduce income inequality in Brazil. This study also shows that the decline in labor income ratios between different ethnic groups and the increase of the share of formal jobs in the labor market contributed to reduce income inequality.