Research Webinar: The Persistence of Income Inequality in Latin America
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This paper analyzes the evolution and determinants of inequality between 1990 and 2017 in Latin America. Throughout the period, inequality in the region has demonstrated three trends: it increased during the 1990s; decreased between 2002 and 2013; and, since 2014, it has remained constant or even increased depending on the country. The reduction of inequality in the second period corresponded to two main changes in social policy: (I) the expansion in access to education in the previous period, which led to a decrease in the salary gap; and (II) the expansion and progresivity of monetary transfers. However, despite improvements in income distribution, in recent years, there has been a wave of protests in various countries. This paper proposes possible explanations of this apparently paradoxical phenomenon. Finally, this paper analyzes the impact of fiscal policy on inequality and poverty using comparative data from fiscal incidence analysis. Although in all countries the combination of taxes, social spending, and consumption subsidies reduces inequality, it does not always reduce poverty.
Nora Lustig is Samuel Z. Stone Professor of Latin American Economics and the founding Director of the Commitment to Equity Institute (CEQ) at Tulane University. She is also a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, the Center for Global Development and the Inter-American Dialogue. Professor Lustig’s research is on economic development, inequality and social policies with emphasis on Latin America. Her recent publication Commitment to Equity Handbook: Estimating the Impact of Fiscal Policy on Inequality and Poverty is a step-by-step guide to assessing the impact of taxation and social spending on inequality and poverty in developing countries. Prof. Lustig is a founding member and President Emeritus of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA) and was a co-director of the World Bank’s World Development Report 2000, Attacking Poverty. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Economic Inequality and is a member of the Society for the Study of Economic Inequality’s Executive Council. Prof. Lustig served on the Atkinson Commission on Poverty, the High-level Group on Measuring Economic Performance and Social Progress, and the G20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance. She received her doctorate in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. View Curriculum Vitae