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Latino Daily News

Sunday September 23, 2012

Brazil Taking Small Steps Towards Greater Equality

Brazil Taking Small Steps Towards Greater Equality

Photo: Morumbi district of São Paulo

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Brazil’s traditionally high level of inequality fell slightly between 2009 and last year thanks to an 8.3 percent increase in workers’ average income and a nearly 20 percent drop in the unemployment rate, according to a government study released Friday.

While the incomes of the poorest 10 percent of the population grew by 29.2 percent between 2009 and 2011, those of the richest 10 percent only climbed 4.43 percent in the same period, according to figures from the state-run IBGE statistics agency.

Higher incomes and employment among the poorest Brazilians caused the Gini coefficient - a measure of wealth concentration in which a score of 0 expresses perfect equality and 1 expresses maximum inequality - to fall from 0.518 points in 2009 to 0.501 points in 2011.

IBGE’s statisticians attributed the reduction in inequality to policies pursued in recent years to combat poverty, especially subsidies for the poorest citizens and salary readjustments that ensure workers’ take-home pay rises faster than inflation.

Despite the slight reduction in inequality, the study showed that Brazil’s wealthiest citizens still take in nearly half of the country’s income.

The richest 10 percent of Brazilians received 41.5 percent of all income in 2011, down slightly from 42.5 percent in 2009.

Meanwhile, the poorest 10 percent of the population only took home 1.4 percent of income in 2011, virtually unchanged from 2009.

Gender inequality also fell slightly. In 2009, women earned an average of 67.1 percent of the salary of a man performing comparable work, while that percentage rose to 70.4 percent in 2011.

Average income of Brazilian men totaled 1,417 reais ($708) in 2011, while that of women came in at 997 reais ($498).

The average unemployment rate last year was 6.7 percent, the lowest in the past five years and far below the 2009 rate of 8.2 percent.

The jobless rate among women fell from 11 percent to 9.1 percent, while the unemployment rate for men declined from 6.2 percent to 4.9 percent.