A Comparative Portrait of Long-Run Racial Disparity in the United States and Brazil


  • Justin R. Bucciferro State University of New York at Cortland, USA


Race, Inequality, Brazil, United States, Segregation.


The relative incomes and education-levels of Black and white populations in the United States and Brazil are considered after Abolition, and framed by earlier disparities in their natural rates of increase. For the post-World War Two period, the effects of demography, education, and regional migration on the Black-white income gap are disentangled using census microdata and a single-equation form Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition. These variables explain progressively less of income inequality over time, meaning that discrimination or other unobserved factors have become more-substantial determinants of relative earnings. Education, measured by literacy or years of schooling, was the major reason behind reductions in income gaps during this period, followed by demography and migration. While both countries have made gains towards racial equality, their timing is entirely divergent (and sometimes counter to popular understandings): the best decade in these terms for the US was the 1960s, and the worst, the 2000s or 2010s; and, vice-versa for Brazil.