nep-lam New Economics Papers
on Central and South America
Issue of 2012‒03‒21
ten papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
University of the Republic

  1. Inequality Trends and their Determinants: Latin America over 1990-2011 By Cornia, Giovanni Andrea
  2. Policy Regimes, Inequality, Poverty and Growth: The Chilean Experience, 1973-2010 By Contreras, Dante
  3. La población de los países latinoamericanos desde el siglo XIX hasta el 2008. Ensayo de historia cuantitativa By César Yáñez; Rodrigo Rivero; Marc Badia-Miró; Anna Carreras-Marín
  4. Educational Segregation and the Gender Wage Gap for Recent College Graduates in Colombia By Laura Cepeda Emiliani; Juan D. Barón
  5. Did Trade Openness Affect Income Distribution in Latin America? Evidence for the years 1980â..2010 By Szekely, Miguel
  6. The Politics of Inequality and Redistribution in Latin Americaâ..s Post-Adjustment Era By Roberts, Kenneth M.
  7. How Do Exchange Rate Regimes Affect Firms’ Incentives to Hedge Currency Risk? Micro Evidence for Latin America By Herman Kamil
  8. Mobilidade Social e Demanda por Redistribuição na América Latina By Cleiton Roberto da Fonseca Silva; Erik Alencar de Figueiredo
  9. Crime, house prices, and inequality: the effect of UPPs in Rio By Claudio Frischtak; Benjamin R. Mandel
  10. Class Assignment and Peer Group Effects: Evidence from Brazilian Primary Schools By Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner

  1. By: Cornia, Giovanni Andrea
    Abstract: The paper reviews the steady and widespread decline in income inequality which has taken place in most of Latin America over 2002-10 and whichâ..â..if continued for another 2-3 yearsâ..â..would reduce the average regional income inequality to pre-liberalization levels. The paper then focuses on the factors, which may explain such inequality decline. A review of the literature and an econometric test indicate that a few complementary factors played an important role in this regard, including a drop in the skill premium following a rapid expansion of secondary education, and the adoption of a new development model by a growing number of left-of-centre governments which emphasizes fiscally-prudent but more equitable macroeconomic, tax, social expenditure and labour policies. For the region as a whole, improvements in terms of trade, migrant remittances, FDI and world growth playeda less important role than expected although their impact was perceptible in countries where such transactions were sizeable.
    Keywords: income inequality, human capital inequality, policy regimes, external conditions, Latin America
    Date: 2012
  2. By: Contreras, Dante
    Abstract: Since the 1970s, Chile has exhibited a highly skewed income distribution accompanied with strong fluctuations over time. Although income distribution worsened notably in the 1970s-80s, a significant improvement was recorded in the first half of the 1990s, resulting from better economic and social policies in the return to democracy. Nonetheless, Chile still faces significant challenges to improve development. There must be an active macroeconomic policy focused on the real economy. Chile also needs profound microeconomic reforms, including (i) capital markets, developing long-term financing channels for small businesses; (ii) radical progress in quality of education and labour training; and (iii) vigorous public support for innovation.
    Keywords: income distribution, macroeconomic policy, microeconomic policies
    Date: 2012
  3. By: César Yáñez (Universidad de Barcelona); Rodrigo Rivero (Universidad de Barcelona); Marc Badia-Miró (Universidad de Barcelona); Anna Carreras-Marín (Universidad de Barcelona)
    Abstract: The analysis of population levels in Latin America plays an important role in the regional historiography. The estimated series appeared until now offers huge discrepancies, therefore, we believe essential to provide homogeneous series for the 19th and the 20th centuries. In our work we shed new light on this issue, from an exhaustive study of the existing Latin American historical sources for the region. To do that, we offer series of population for 21 countries of Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela) from own sources (Population Census), and other demographic complementary works. From all the wide range of existing databases (Mitchell, Maddison, MOXLAD and ECLAC), the authors have chosen to base its reconstruction of the data, on the series offered by ECLAC, which derive from the work of CELADE. Along with a detailed explanation of the data collection, we also provide an analysis of the discrepancies and the accuracy of sources. It concludes with an appendix with the data series.
    Keywords: Latin America, Caribbean, Demography, Ecnomic History
    JEL: N30 N30
    Date: 2012–03
  4. By: Laura Cepeda Emiliani; Juan D. Barón
    Abstract: In this paper we show the importance of subject of degree in explaining the gender wage gap in Colombia. In order to minimize the influence of gender differences in experience, promotions, and job changes on the wage gap, we focus on college graduates who have a formal job and who have been in the labor market at most one year. Using unique, administrative datasets with detailed subjects of degree, we find that the wage gap against women is on average 11% and that 40% of it can be explained by differences in subject of degree. Using a distributional decomposition, we find an increasing gender wage gap across the distribution of wages (from 2% at the bottom to 15% at the top), although subject of degree explains a lower 30% of the gap at the top. Policies designed to reduce the gender wage gap need to address the differing gender educational choices and the factors that influence them. These policies would be more effective in reducing the gap for median wage earners.
    Date: 2012–03–06
  5. By: Szekely, Miguel
    Abstract: This paper offers a medium-term perspective for analysing the trade opennessâ..inequality relationship in Latin America. We present three contributions. The first is that we assemble a database on income distribution indicators systematically estimated from household surveys with emphasis on within-country consistency of methodology, definitions, and coverage for the years 1980-2010. This 30-year database allows observing clearly that the increases in inequality throughout the 1980s and 1990s decades have been almost totally counteracted by the improvements during the first 10 years of the twenty-first century: 75 per cent of the deterioration in income distribution was reversed in the first decade of 2000. The second is an estimation of the association between trade openness and income distribution over the 30-year period. Our central conclusion in this regard is that greater trade openness is associated with contemporaneous increases in inequality in the region. The third is that trade openness contributedâ..â..together with other factorsâ..â the increase in inequality during the 1980s and 1990s, but once fully implemented, it did not lead to further rises in inequality, and did not represent a permanent obstacle to improvements in income distribution triggered by other factors such as greater education levels across the population.
    Keywords: inequality, education, trade
    Date: 2012
  6. By: Roberts, Kenneth M.
    Abstract: Declining social and economic inequalities since the late 1990s coincided with several basic shifts in Latin Americaâ..s political landscape, including an electoral turn to the left and a revival of social mobilization from below. These shifts helped to â..repoliticizeâ.. inequality and return redistributive policies to a central place on the political agenda in the aftermath to the structural adjustment policies of the 1980s and 1990s.Equity gains, however, have occurred under conservative governments as well as leftist ones, and they are associated with a diverse set of public policy initiatives. The new politics of inequality, therefore, differ significantly from those of Latin Americaâ..s ISI era, as well as those that prevailed during the period of economic liberalization.
    Keywords: inequality, redistribution, structural adjustment, political parties, populism, social policy
    Date: 2012
  7. By: Herman Kamil
    Abstract: Using a unique dataset with information on the currency composition of firms’ assets and liabilities in six Latin-American countries, I investigate how the choice of exchange rate regime affects firms’ foreign currency borrowing decisions and the associated currency mismatches in their balance sheets. I find that after countries switch from pegged to floating exchange rate regimes, firms reduce their levels of foreign currency exposures, in two ways. First, they reduce the share of debt contracted in foreign currency. Second, firms match more systematically their foreign currency liabilities with assets denominated in foreign currency and export revenues--effectively reducing their vulnerability to exchange rate shocks. More broadly, the study provides novel evidence on the impact of exchange rate regimes on the level of un-hedged foreign currency debt in the corporate sector and thus on aggregate financial stability.
    Date: 2012–03–05
  8. By: Cleiton Roberto da Fonseca Silva; Erik Alencar de Figueiredo
    Abstract: Conforme Alesina & Angeletos (2005) e Alesina & Glaeser (2004), as preferências por redistribuição de renda variam sistematicamente entre as diversas regiões, promovendo diferenças significativas no tamanho do governo e na composição dos gastos públicos. Nesse contexto, esse artigo modela as preferências redistributivas na América Latina, com foco especial no impacto que as expectativas de mobilidade exercem sobre a demanda por redistribuição. Os resultados sugerem demanda por autointeresse e por considerações de justiça baseadas na desigualdade de oportunidades. Adicionalmente, revela-se a importância da mobilidade passada e a rejeição da hipótese de mobilidade ascendente (POUM) de Benabou & Ok (2001) para a região latino-americana
    Keywords: Redistribuição de Re,Mobilidade Social,POUM Hyphotesis
    Date: 2012
  9. By: Claudio Frischtak; Benjamin R. Mandel
    Abstract: We use a recent policy experiment in Rio de Janeiro, the installation of permanent police stations in low-income communities (or favelas), to quantify the relationship between a reduction in crime and the change in the prices of nearby residential real estate. Using a novel data set of detailed property prices from an online classifieds website, we find that the new police stations (called UPPs) had a substantial effect on the trajectory of property values and certain crime statistics since the beginning of the program in late 2008. We also find that the extent of inequality among residential prices decreased as a result of the policy. Both of these empirical observations are consistent with a dynamic model of property value in which historical crime rates have persistent effects on the price of real estate.
    Keywords: Crime ; Housing - Prices ; Law enforcement ; Wealth
    Date: 2012
  10. By: Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner
    Abstract: Students in Brazil are typically assigned to classes based on their age ranking in their school grade. I exploit this rule to estimate the effects on maths achievement of being in a class with older peers for students in fifth grade of primary school. Because grade repetition is widespread in Brazil, the distribution of age is skewed to the right and hence age heterogeneity is typically higher in older classes. I provide evidence that heterogeneity in age is the driving factor behind the large negative estimated effect of being in an older class. Information on teaching practices and student behaviour sheds light on how class heterogeneity harms learning.
    Keywords: Peer effects; regression discontinuity; educational production; group heterogeneity.
    JEL: I20 I21
    Date: 2012–03

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