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Income inequality in Latin America. Recent decline and prospects for its further reduction

Publication cover
Corporate author:
  • NU. CEPAL. División de Desarrollo Económico
  • German Society for International Cooperation
UN symbol.: LC/L.3847 43 p.; grafs. Editorial: ECLAC July 2014


The paper reviews the extent of the income inequality decline which has taken place in Latin America
over 2002-2010 which reduced the regional Gini index to the level of the early 1980s. The paper then
focuses on the factors which may explain such decline. These include a drop in the skill premium
following an expansion of secondary education, the adoption of a new development model by a growing
number of progressive governments which adopted prudent but more equitable macroeconomic, tax,
social assistance and labor policies. For the region as a whole, gains in terms of trade, remittances, FDI
and world growth played an important but not determinant role though their impact was perceptible in
countries where such shocks were sizeable. Finally, the paper reviews the changes in inequality during
the difficult years 2009-2012 and discusses whether and how the recent decline can be sustained over the
next decade in the context of sluggish world growth.

Table of contents

Abstract .-- I. Secular trends in income inequality .-- II. Underlying causes of the decline of income inequality over 2002-2010 .-- III. Regression analysis .-- IV. Inequality during the crisis of 2008-2012 and prospects for its further reduction.

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