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CEQ Working Paper No 22: Fiscal Policy and Ethno-Racial Inequality in Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala and Uruguay


Fiscal Policy and Ethno-Racial Inequality in Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala and Uruguay
Working Paper no. 22

A working document by:
Nora Lustig
Samuel Z. Stone Professor of Latin American Economics, Tulane University
Nonresident fellow at the Center for Global Development and the Inter-American Dialogue

Abstract
African descendants and indigenous peoples in Latin America face higher poverty rates and are disproportionately represented among the poor. Per capita income of the white population can be sixty percent higher to twice as high as the per capita of the African descendant and indigenous populations. Using comparable fiscal incidence analyses for Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala and Uruguay, I analyze how much poverty and inequality change after fiscal interventions. I also propose a set of indicators for measuring how progressive and pro-indigenous or pro-African descendant government intervention is in ethno-racial dimensions. Based on these indicators, I explore which elements of tax and transfer systems within each country specifically contribute to narrowing or increasing existing ethno-racial gaps. The ratio of average per capita incomes by ethnicity or race declines by at most one decimal point (Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay) to nothing (Guatemala). In Brazil and Uruguay, where there is a respectable decline in overall inequality, the decline in inequality between different ethno-racial groups still does not decline significantly, changing by a very small amount in Uruguay and actually increasing in Brazil.

Access the working document here:
Updated January 2015
CEQ Working Paper No 22: Fiscal Policy and Ethno-Racial Inequality in Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala and Uruguay

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