Coordination: Marta Arretche
This project refers to the evolution of inequality in Brazil from 1960 on. Social and economic inequality is seen as one of the most enduring traits of Brazilian society. Its resilience in spite of impressive rates of economic growth represents both an intellectual and political challenge.
There are robust evidences that income inequality has steadily declined the last 15 years though. Moreover, it is well demonstrated by econometric studies that this outcome is driven by economic growth and consequent expanded demand for jobs as well as by deliberate policies such as direct cash transfers, pension expenditures, and the increased levels of schooling.
However, we know too little on whether this tendency is also taking place in other dimensions of people's well-being, like education, health, urban conditions, race, and so on. If it does, when did this inflexion start? Is it possible to identify factors explaining or associated with such changes? Are they associated to societal changes, whose origins are independent from State policies, or alternatively, public policy changes, deliberately set by State agencies, have had a role on current social conditions? Have inequalities typical of rural societies changed? Or, have they been replaced by new forms of inequality, typical of industrial or post-industrial societies? Have democracy had any impact on the path of inequality in Brazil?
Although we know that Brazil has changed a lot the last 50 years now, comprehensive descriptions of such changes are rare. Moreover, besides assessing the nature and moments of change, this project also aims at advancing in the understanding of the factors behind them. Special attention will be given to two categories of factors that are central in the theorization of change, namely, structure and agency. Hence,
exploring whether this changes have been a by-product of economic and society changes or the outcome of deliberate State policies is one of the main goals of this project.
This project will take the last 6 editions (1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010) of the Brazilian Census as its main data source. Its expected outcome is an edited book to be published both in Portuguese and English.