Note from BW of Brazil: The article we present below doesn’t in fact reveal anything that researchers of racial inequality in Brazil didn’t already know. The fact is that social disparities are structured so deeply that it will take much longer than a decade and a few years of affirmative action policies to deconstruct these inequalities. To be clear, no one here is saying that these inequalities are based strictly on the race factor although the role of race in the equation cannot be underestimated. For example, as the piece below shows, even with a college education, salary disparities along lines of race are still huge. But one of the main reasons for this is that white Brazilians continue to dominate prestigious university majors such as the medical and law fields that lead to higher salaries. The race factor here plays out in the fact that vestibulars (college entrance exams) to be accepted in these fields are usually highly competitive and often times only those students who have had the privilege of attending top-rated (and expensive) private high schools (see here and here) have experienced the rigorous classes and prep courses to pass such exams. Needless to say, these students are overwhelmingly white. This has long been one of the main arguments presented by activists in support of affirmative action policies over the past decade. But this sort of “head start” shouldn’t be counted as an unearned advantage, right?
Among college graduates, whites still earn 47% more than blacks
By Raphael Martins
The wage gap between races is still a reality in Brazil. For every 100 reais earned by a white worker with a college degree, a black graduate earns 67.58 reais. The average salary among black with a college education is R$3,777.39 to R$5,589.25 of whites, a difference of 47%.
The information is from the research of Características Do Emprego Formal da Relação Anual De Informações Sociais (Rais or Characteristics of Formal Employment of the Annual Social Information Report) 2014, released by the Ministério do Trabalho (Labor Department).
For the population identified as parda (brown), the difference is somewhat lower: R$72.35 for every R$100 among brancos (whites). The data also show that the more skilled, the more disadvantaged the preto or pardo has in relation to brancos when it comes to dividends at the end of the month.
The least difference of whites to blacks, therefore, is among those who are illiterate: the average salary of whites who cannot read or write is R$1,249.35, while for blacks it’s R $ 1,144.48 (R$ 91.61 for each R$100).
Pretos or pardos earn about 90% of the salary of whites in all lower classifications of education, up to the completion of primary education. From then on the difference grows. When they enter the university, the relationship comes to be below 80%.
Completing higher education, the wages of all jump, but it is more significant among whites. The average salary jumps from R$ 2,719.98 to R$ 5,589.25 – an increase of 105%. Among blacks, the difference goes from R$ 2,252.55 to R$ 3,777.39 – or 67% more.
In the overall average, counting all levels of education, the average incomes of black workers represented 69.58% relative to whites in 2014, while in 2013 it was 70.13%. See the data of evolution below.
For Ronaldo Barros, head of the Secretariat for Racial Equality Promotion Policies (Seppir) of the federal government, subjective barriers such as racism still mean that there is a much smaller presence of black executives, present in high posts, preventing a higher salary.
“There is also the absence of blacks in university courses that pay better and have a higher level of training, as in the case of medicine, engineering and law, for example,” he says. “The Quota Law in universities is slowly correcting its presence, but with three years, it didn’t have time to graduate the first class and put them on the market. Perhaps in the coming years we have a reduction in that difference.”
A Seppir study shows that in 2003, the number of blacks with 12 or more years of study, which shows presence in universities, reached 27.6 million people. In 1993, there were only 4.1 million – nearly seven times more in 20 years.
There was a fall with the participation of black youth aged 16-24 in the period, from 28.6% in 1993 to 19.1% in 2013. As unemployment in Brazil was down two years ago, this index can point to a voluntary delay in the search for employment to study longer.
Even so, the participation of blacks in the economically active population rose. At the beginning of the 90s there were more than 66 million blacks in activity, while in 2013 it reached 103 million people.