Racial and Ethnic Inequality in Latin America
31 October 2023
This chapter examines socioeconomic inequality in Latin America through the lens of race and ethnicity. We primarily use national census data from the International Public Use Micro Data Sample (IPUMS). Since censuses use inconsistent measures of race and ethnicity, we also draw on two additional measures from the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP). Unlike censuses, LAPOP data offer a more consistent ethnoracial scheme across countries and a unique interviewer-rated skin color measure. Our study shows that black and indigenous populations and those with darker skin color experience educational, income, and occupational disadvantages, even after controlling for their social origins. However, inequality and hierarchical ordering of Afro-descendants, indigenous peoples, mestizos, whites, and others vary across countries. We include an extended examination of educational inequality in Brazil, the regions largest country. The chapter concludes with an exploration of public policy approaches to address black and indigenous disadvantage across Latin America while also highlighting the case of Brazil, where targeted antiracism policy is most advanced.