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Fields of Study and the Earnings Gap by Race in Brazil

Review of Development Economics

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Workers with tertiary education in Brazil earn three times more than those with a lower level of schooling. Thus, the attainment of a bachelor's or graduate degree by a black worker usually provides important benefits at the individual level. However, an educational improvement of this type does not assure equal labor market outcomes relative to white workers with the same level of education. The labor earnings differential by race in Brazil is high even among individuals who completed at least a bachelor's degree. This paper investigates this labor earnings gap, emphasizing the unequal distribution of whites and blacks across fields of study. Evidence indicates that disparities in the distribution of racial groups across fields of study help explain 18% of the total median earnings differential in 2000 and 33% in 2010, accounting for most of the gap between white and black workers due to characteristic effects in this latter period.