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Universities and Intergenerational Social Mobility in Brazil: Examining Patterns by Race and Gender

Suzanne Duryea, Luísa Baptista Freitas, Luana Marques-Garcia Ozemela, Breno Sampaio, Gustavo R. Sampaio and Giuseppe Trevisan
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Luísa Baptista Freitas: Inter-American Development Bank
Luana Marques-Garcia Ozemela: Inter-American Development Bank
Gustavo R. Sampaio: Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE)
Giuseppe Trevisan: Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE)

Journal of Economics, Race, and Policy, 2019, vol. 2, issue 4, No 5, 240-256

Abstract: Abstract This paper analyzes social mobility as realized by students of a high-quality public flagship university in Brazil, the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), and compares with mobility at US institutions, applying the methodology of Chetty et al. (2017). Intergenerational income mobility is analyzed using the family income of students matriculating to UFPE in 2005–2006 and individual earnings 12–13 years later. Upward mobility is defined as the percentage of students who attain the highest quintile of individual earnings among those who matriculated from the lowest income families. We find that mobility rates are higher at UFPE than at comparator US universities as calculated by Chetty et al. (2017). While these are non-causal estimates, they nonetheless suggest that public universities can play a key role in facilitating upward social mobility in Brazil. Disaggregating by gender, we find higher mobility rates for men than for women in both UFPE and US comparator institutions. Using UFPE admissions data, we are able to explore the role of both ability and major choice on mobility gaps by gender and race. For both women and Afro-Brazilians, the proxy for ability (college entry exam) does not explain the gap in reaching the top earnings quintile compared to white males. However, the choice of major is found to be an important factor in limiting mobility for these demographic groups.

Keywords: Intergenerational income mobility; Tertiary schooling; Brazil; D31; I24; I23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1007/s41996-019-00033-1

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