Skip to main content

Trajectories of Inequality in Brazil

Date & Time

Feb. 16, 2016
9:00am – 5:00pm ET


5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
Get Directions


The challenges Brazil faces nowadays, in particular the ongoing crisis of governance and a deep economic recession, raise important questions about the country’ s capacity to preserve impressive gains it made in recent decades to reduce historically high levels of social, economic,  and political inequalies. This is the context of a daylong seminar the Brazil Institute of the Wilson Center will convene on February 16, in partnership with the University of São Paulo Centro de Estudos da Metrópole and the São Paulo Science Foundation (FAPESP).

The discussion will bring together co-authors of the most comprehensive study to date on the various manifestations of inequality in the largest South American nation and scholars from American and Brazilian academic institutions. Published last year, Trajetórias das Desigualdades: como o Brasil mudou nos últimos 50 anos, was received as an important contribution to the social sciences on issues dealing with the connections between democracy, public policies, and inequality. The book presents new research on the trajectories of Brazil’s inequality over the past 50 years. “Its original contribution lies in being the first comprehensive study based on solid empirical research dealing with long-term changes in Brazil,” wrote University of São Paulo political science Professor Marta Arretche, who organized and edited the volume summarized here. “On a theoretical level, the book’s main contribution consists of demonstrating that the path toward inequality-reduction comprises multiple and connected dimensions whose origins are independent. Neither  industrialization [nor] democracy are sufficient conditions for this purpose.”

Trajetórias das Desigualdades brings together in a single volume a collection of studies on the different aspects of the social and economic structures considered important for research on inequality, such as: unequal political participation; access to education, health and public services; insertion in the labor market; race and gender issues. Also present in the book are detailed studies on the connections between inequality and the trajectory of migration and religious affiliation. The volume presents in fourteen thematic chapters a detailed and comprehensive outlook on inequality, addressing different dimensions of the problem. All chapters have quantitative and longitudinal studies based on data from six editions of the Demographic Census, from 1960 to 2010. The studies examine the connections across different macro transitions — from a rural country to an urban one; from an authoritarian to a democratic regime; from a stagnant to a growing economy— and the policy direction of democratic governments. It also explores the trajectory of different dimensions of inequality.



9:00am: Opening Session
Welcome, by Paulo Sotero, Director, Brazil Institute
The book content: Trajectories of Inequality in Brazil, by Marta Arretche, Professor of Political Science, University of São Paulo

9:45am: First Session - The policies on Politics
Chair:  Maria Herminia Tavares de Almeida, Senior Researcher, Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning (CEBRAP)
Political Participation, by Fernando Limongi, Professor of Political Science, University of São Paulo, and José Antonio Cheibub, University Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois
Councils, associations, and inequality, by Adrian Gurza Lavalle, Professor of Political Science, University of São Paulo
Discussants: Daniel Gingerich, Associate Professor and Director of Quantitative Collaborative, University of Virginia and Matthew Taylor, Associate Professor of International Service, American University

11:15am: Coffee Break

11:30am: Second Session: Education Policy
Chair: Matthew Taylor, American University
Education and inequality in Brazil, by Naercio Menezes Filho, Professor, Institute of Education and Research, INSPER
Educational stratification among youth in Brazil, by Carlos A.C. Ribeiro, Professor of Social and Political Studies, Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ)
Discussant: David Lam, Director of the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

1:00pm: Lunch Discussion: The current Brazilian crisis

Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva, Special Advisor, FAPESP; Paulo Sotero, Brazil Institute; Matthew Taylor, American University; Sergei Soares, Visiting Fellow, Center for Global Development

2:00 pm: Third Session: Urban infrastructure and services

Chair: Carlos Eduardo Lins Da Silva, Senior Adivsor, São Paulo Science Foundation, FAPESP
Urban Conditions, by Eduardo Marques, Vice-Director at CEM and Professor, University of São Paulo
Territorial inequalities, by Marta Arretche, University of São Paulo
Discussant: Peter Ward, University Professor of Sociology, University of Texas

3:30pm: Coffee Break

3:45 pm: Concluding Session: The path toward inequality-reduction

Chair: Sergei Soares, Center for Global Development
The path toward inequality-reduction, by Marta Arretche, University of São Paulo
Discussants: Kenneth Roberts, University Professor of Comparative and Latin American Politics, Cornell University and Maria Herminia Tavares de Almeida, Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning (CEBRAP)

Event Feedback

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.