September 9, 2008 / 7:38 PM / 11 years ago

Brazil blacks, women earn less than men: study

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Blacks and women in Brazil earn substantially less than white men, a study showed on Tuesday, while the income gap between rich and poor in Latin America’s largest country has narrowed in recent years.

Women earned roughly two-thirds of the average male income in 2006 of 1,181 reais ($667), while blacks earned around half as much as whites, according to a report by the government’s Institute for Applied Economic Studies (Ipea).

Those figures are marginally better than 10 years ago, Ipea said, blaming discrimination for the disparity.

“Discrimination by gender and race is widespread in various sectors of society,” according to the study.

Brazilian women are more educated on average than men and blacks work more years than whites, the study showed.

Black women fare worst. They earn less than one-third of the pay of white men.

Dark-skinned people make up nearly half of Brazil’s population but relatively few have gained entry to the upper echelons of one of the world’s most inequitable societies.

Among black households, 77 percent did not own a washing machine, compared to half of white households, the study said.

As a result of fast economic growth, the gap between the rich and poor, as measured by the highest and lowest salaries, fell by nearly 7 percent between late 2002 and the beginning of this year, Ipea said in June.

But the expanding economy and increased government welfare programs, such as the family bonus paid to parents with children in school, did not benefit women or blacks more than other Brazilians.

“The family bonus is based on income, it is not affirmative action,” said Jorge Abrahao, head of social studies at Ipea.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former factory worker, has raised the minimum wage several times since taking office in 2003.

Brazil is also gradually adopting policies giving blacks and native Indians preferred access to higher education and some public sector jobs.

Reporting by Natuza Nery; writing by Raymond Colitt, editing by Alan Elsner

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