Longing for Equality in Brazil: A Brief Assessment from Occupational Structure, Demographics and Inequality Trends

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW2.3.02 (Tower Two)
Paulo SÚrgio Fracalanza, Institute of Economics, State University of Campinas - UNICAMP, Campinas, Brazil
Rosana Icassatti Corazza, Department of Science and Technology Policy, Institute of Geosciences, State University of Campinas - UNICAMP, Campinas, Brazil
A thorough evaluation of an expressive set of indicators of the labor market in Brazil, from the beginning of the first Lula administration (2003) until the present time, suggest a narrative of significant and desirable changes. Even though marked by wide fluctuations on economic activity level, this period had witnessed important changes that can be portrayed in several ways: i) an unprecedented growth of the real minimum wage; ii) an important process of job formalization; iii) a reduction of open unemployment level; and iv) a diminishing of the wide inequalities in labor income. It is true that all these undeniable achievements are still timid in face of the structural dimension of problems that characterize the working market in Brazil. Besides, they are still very fragile and could be reversed shortly. In this context, in the limits of this paper, we suggest an analysis of selected labor market indicators in Brazil in the period that spans from 2003 to 2014, depending on the availability of primary data sources. For a better appreciation of these changes, we organize them as follows. Firstly, we examine the process of job creation by observing indicators of net creation of jobs, the evolution of the stock of employed workers in formal jobs, and the unemployment rate. Secondly, we analyze the data and decompose unemployment rate movements into three main statistic groups: working age population (WAP), economically active population (EAP) and the occupied population (OP). Thirdly, we assess the development of earnings, focusing on the performance of minimum wages, the evolution of mean and median wages, and the net creation of jobs to the classes of income. Fourthly, we examine some selected indicators on the evolution of job formalization, according to the position in the occupation and main sectors of activity. Fifthly, we consider the recent changes in demographics in Brazil, focusing on the course of demographic transition. In doing so, we pay particular attention to the rapid change in the age profile of the population that temporarily provides the so-called demographic dividend, but also poses challenges to public policies. Sixthly, we shed light on some aspects linked to inequalities, especially with regard to the transformation of Brazilian socioeconomic structure, with significant reduction in the population group living in misery, and the positive performance of labor income inequality. Finally, we present some final considerations and a cast of suggestions for future research and policy actions we judge required in reducing inequalities in Brazil.