IZA DP No. 2809: Why Is Poverty So High Among Afro-Brazilians? A Decomposition Analysis of the Racial Poverty Gap
revised version published in: Journal of Development Studies, 2009, 45 (9), 1-38
This study aimed to identify the major factors underlying the large discrepancy in poverty levels between two Brazilian racial groups: whites and Afro-Brazilians. We performed an Oaxaca-Blinder-type decomposition for nonlinear regressions in order to quantify the extent to which differences in observed geographic, sociodemographic, and labor characteristics (characteristics effect) account for this difference. The remaining unexplained part (coefficients effect) provides evidence on how these characteristics differentially impact on the risk of poverty in each group. A detailed decomposition of both effects allows the individual contribution of each characteristic to be determined. Our results show that the characteristics effect explains a large part of the discrepancy in poverty levels, with education and labor variables of household members explaining at least one half of the effect, and geographic and demographic variables accounting for the remainder. However, the unexplained part that remains significant has increased in importance in recent last years, and probably results from unequal access to high-quality education and the persistence of discrimination against colored workers in the labor market.