The recent decline of inequality in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Peru

The recent decline of inequality in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Peru

arton505-e0abfLopez-Calva, Luis F. and Lustig, Nora.

The Society for the Study of Economic Inequality (ECINEQ), 2009.

Why has inequality declined? Have the changes in inequality been driven by market forces such as the demand and supply for labor with different skills? Or have governments become more redistributive than they used to be, and if so, why? This paper attempts to answer these questions by focusing on the determinants of inequality in four countries: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Peru. The analysis suggests that the decline in inequality is accounted for by two main factors: (i) a fall in the earnings gap between skilled and low-skilled workers (through both quantity and price effects); and (ii) more progressive government transfers (monetary and in-kind transfers). Demographic factors, such as a change in the proportion of adults (and working adults) per household, have been equalizing but the magnitude of their contribution has been small by comparison.

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