Abstract

Does economic development benefit ordinary people in poor nations? Two authoritative surveys (N=89,811 and 84,389) in Brazil, a prototypical example, suggest that it increases the pay of all occupational groups, prosperous and poor, in roughly equal proportion, by about 3% a year. Most of this gain is due to compositional changes, especially the increase in educational levels; to more advantageous family background; and to migration to more prosperous regions within Brazil. The remainder, a growth of 1% to 2% per year, reflects the benefits of economic development per se. Development raises women’s pay in equal proportion to men’s.

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