A woman's hour of work is still worth a fourth less than that of a man in Latin America's biggest country. Rather than mirroring differences such as education or experience, the wage gap appears to reflect discriminatory practices and social norms, even though Brazil's Constitution entitles men and women to the same rights.
A new World Bank study reveals that if this inequality is fully eliminated from the job market, not only women – but also the national economy – will be able to feel the benefits.
The report Gender Equality and Economic Growth in Brazil, considers a hypothetical set of anti-discrimination laws aimed at promoting equal pay between men and women. And while the immediate consequence of this policy is an increase in family income, many other effects can be felt in the long run.
A higher income leads to a higher level of private savings, which has a direct positive effect on growth, as well as on tax revenues, according to the report. In addition, higher tax revenues also lead to higher public spending on health and education, which generates positive impacts on the health of kids and adults.
"Thus, in the long run, a reduction in gender bias leads to an improvement in women’s health status and an increase of about 0.15 percentage points in the growth rate of output," say economists and authors Otaviano Canuto, Vice President of World Bank, and Pierre-Richard Agénor, a professor at the University of Manchester.