Cyclical variations of earnings inequality in Brazil

Vol. 13 No. 4 (1993)

Oct-Dec / 1993
Published October 1, 1993

How to Cite

Cardoso, Eliana. 1993. “Cyclical Variations of Earnings Inequality in Brazil”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 13 (4):613-25.

Cyclical variations of earnings inequality in Brazil

Eliana Cardoso
Tufts University and NBER – National Bureau of Economic Research
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 13 No. 4 (1993), Oct-Dec / 1993, Pages 613-625


This paper shows that income distribution can change dramatically during the
business cycle. This finding contrasts with the widespread belief that income distribution
changes slowly in the absence of wars and revolutions. Macroeconomics explains in good
measure short-run variations in income distribution: inequality varies cyclically, and it increases
with inflation and unemployment. Furthermore, at least in Brazil, the minimum wage
legislation does not contribute to a better income distribution. There is also evidence that
populist policies which lead to real appreciation cannot be justified as supporting the poor.
Thus, the best way to help the poor is demonstrably not through the manipulation of prices
and wages, but probably through macro stability and a transparent tax-transfer system.

JEL Classification: I32; O15.

Keywords: Income distribution inequality minimum wage business cycles