Article | White people earn on average twice as much as

Although there are several spheres affected by racial inequalities, the analysis published in Inequality in Metropolis Bulletin* it focuses on income inequality and on the differences in average incomes between whites and blacks, who are considered to be people who declare themselves to be brown or black.

Regarding the moving average of black and white earnings for the set of Metropolitan Regions, it was found that, throughout the entire historical series, there is a pattern of stability in this indicator with the labor income of the white population fluctuating around R $2,000 and the income of the black population is well below, at about R$1,000, which means that, on average, white people earn twice as much as black people.

“These inequalities are persistently present throughout the historical series that we are analyzing”, explains one of the coordinators of the study, Marcelo Ribeiro.

“The fact that these inequalities are persistent at this level, in a ratio of two, in which whites earn on average twice as much as black people, may result from the structure of the labor market, which presents a set of occupations that differ in terms of remuneration”.

According to the researcher, this means that black people have greater difficulty in accessing those occupations with a higher level of remuneration.

“These are questions of a subjective nature, which are more linked to the processes of discrimination existing in the labor market that constitute barriers for black people’s access to those occupations with the highest remuneration”, points out Ribeiro.

“Blacks end up occupying positions in the labor market that have a lower level of remuneration, which correspond exactly to those positions with less social prestige. This would be an explanation for the persistence of these inequalities in the labor market in Brazilian metropolises.”

As of the 2nd quarter of 2020, income losses were registered in both groups, due to the economic consequences of the covid-19 pandemic.

The lowest value of the ratio between the income of whites over the income of blacks – 1.94 – occurred in the 2nd quarter of 2014 and from then onwards it grew consecutively until reaching the highest value in the series – 2.11 – in the 3rd quarter of 2017.

The ratio dropped again until mid-2018 and then rose to 2.10 in the 2nd quarter of 2020 and has been decreasing since then, reaching 2.04 in the 2nd quarter of 2021.

The bulletin considers the usual earnings from work. By using the PNADc’s quarterly disclosure, which ensures less data lag, only labor income (formal and/or informal) is accessed, therefore, not including income from other sources – these present in the annual disclosure.

For the calculation of inequality statistics, the researchers prefer the use of per capita household income from work.

Racial and gender inequality in the labor market in Brazil

With regard to the labor market, according to data presented earlier this year in the Public Policy Nexus on the unemployment rate in the second quarter of 2020, white men have higher salaries and lower unemployment rates at all levels of education.

Black women are the group facing the worst conditions. The general average of the monthly average income, considering gender and color/race, is R$2,426. This income data considers earnings received from the main job. While white men earn R$3,467, black women earn R$1,573.

The survey also shows that black men have higher monthly incomes than white women at all levels of education except “uneducated”.

A black man with a college degree earns R$ 4,743, while a white man with a college degree earns, on average, R$ 6,901. A white woman with a complete college degree earns R$4,308, while a black woman with a complete college degree earns R$2,994.

Without education, black women are the most affected, earning around R$700, while white men earn R$1,259 and white women earn R$1,371.

Racial inequality is evidenced in the covid-19 pandemic

Currently, the covid-19 pandemic has highlighted racial inequality in the country since, according to notifications from the Ministry of Health, the virus had a higher lethality rate among the Brazilian black population, reaching the proportion of 1 in every 3 deaths.

In addition, data collected by independent researchers in more than 5,500 counties show that 55% of black patients hospitalized with covid-19 did not survive, compared with 38% of white patients¹.

Analysis published in the form of a scientific essay in the Fiocruz’s Public Health Notebooks and signed by researchers from the foundation’s units and from the UERJ’s Urban Research Center, it says that inequality in access to basic rights such as health, sanitation and work has made the black and peripheral population more vulnerable to the covid-19 pandemic, disproving the idea initial that the consequences of the disease would be equally felt in society.

The essay brings data from the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) that show the socioeconomic inequality between blacks and whites in the country, such as access to basic sanitation, essential for the hygiene care necessary to prevent covid-19: 12.5 % of blacks and 6% of whites live in places without garbage collection in the country; 17.9% of blacks and 11.5% of whites do not have a general water supply; and 42.8% of blacks and 26.5% of whites do not have sewerage systems or rainwater at home.

*The fifth edition of the “Boletim Desigualdade nas Metrópoles”, published in October, included a complementary block with data on racial inequality in Brazilian metropolises, pointing to a situation of great disparity in the distribution of income. Coordinated by Marcelo Ribeiro (IPPUR/UFRJ) and Andre Salata (PUC-RS), the bulletin is the result of a partnership between the Observatório das Metrópoles, PUC-RS and the Network of Social Debt Observatories in Latin America (RedODSAL).

**This is an opinion piece. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the editorial line of the newspaper Brasil de Fato.

Edition: Leandro Melito

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