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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Income inequality in Brazil, already high, increased after the military coup of 1964 and remained very high even after democratization in the 1980s. It decreased substantially in the period 2001–2014, after inflation was controlled. The Gini index of the per capita household income dropped from 0.594 in 2001 to 0.513 in 2014. The determinants of this decline in inequality are analyzed considering the components of that income and how each one affected changes in inequality, showing the impact of changes in the remuneration of private sector employees and in pensions paid by the government, as well as federal transfer programs. Changes in education lie behind the first of these effects, and the increase of the minimum wage reinforced all three. The economic crises after 2014 interrupted the process of decline, and among economically active persons, inequality even increased from 2014 to 2015. Measures to further reduce inequality are suggested.

Keywords: income inequality, Brazil, Gini index, minimum wage, government, democratization

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