Latin America is often singled out for its high and persistent income inequality. Toward the end of the 1990s, however, income concentration began to fall across the region. Of the seventeen countries for which comparable data are available, twelve have experienced a decline, particularly since 2000. This book is among the first efforts to understand what happened in these countries and why.
Led by editors Felipe López-Calva and Nora Lustig, a panel of distinguished economists undertakes in-depth analyses of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru. In addition, they provide essential background in the form of overviews of the relationship between markets and inequality, the political economy of redistribution, and the evolution of income inequality in the advanced industrialized economies. Two factors account for much of the decline in inequality: a decrease in the wage gap between skilled and low-skilled labor, and an increase in government transfers targeted to the poor.
Thanks to the timeliness and sophistication of these essays, Declining Inequality in Latin America is likely to become a standard reference in its field.
Susan M. Collins, Barry P. Bosworth, Miguel A. Soto-Class
June 22, 2006
Luis F. López-Calva is chief economist at the Regional Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Nora Lustig is Samuel Z. Stone Professor of Latin American Economics at Tulane University and a nonresident fellow at the Center for Global Development and the Inter- American Dialogue in Washington, D.C.