Tackling Inequalities in Brazil, China, India and South Africa

The Role of Labour Market and Social Policies

image of Tackling Inequalities in Brazil, China, India and South Africa

Greater integration into the world economy and important policy reforms have resulted in Brazil, China, India and South Africa becoming major actors in the globalisation process, with impressive results in terms of economic growth, social development and poverty reduction. But the benefits of stronger growth have not always been shared equally and income inequality has remained at very high levels. 

Existing evidence suggests that the evolution of the distribution of income in these four countries is the result of many forces. These include demographic change, migration, unequal access to education, informal employment, existing regulations and their enforcement, social norms and cultural legacy. These forces are often interlinked and reinforce one another. However, as employment is the primary source of income for most households, understanding the impact of labour market outcomes is crucial.  

This book focuses on the role of growth and employment/unemployment developments in explaining recent income inequality trends in Brazil, China, India and South Africa, and discusses the roles played by labour market and social policies in both shaping and addressing these inequalities. It includes the papers presented at the joint OECD and European Union High-Level Conference on Inequalities in Emerging Economies held in Paris in May 2010. This work is part of OECD’s ongoing dialogue and co-operation with non-member economies around the world.



The decade of falling income inequality and formal employment generation in Brazil

This chapter studies the role played by labour market outcomes and education as well as by income policies on the level and distribution of household per capita income in Brazil between 1992 and 2009. It shows a pronounced reduction in overall income inequality since 2001 due to social programmes and especially to labour improvements. The attractive feature of targeted social programmes, such as Bolsa Familia, is that in terms of GDP they cost much less than social security payments. Trends in years of schooling suggest that the decrease in income inequality observed during this decade will continue in the coming years. The 2008-09 international economic crisis has hit all earnings indicators, but by September 2009 they had once again reached pre-crisis levels.


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