Blacks to Outnumber Whites in Brazil

Michael Astor, AP, May 13, 2008

Blacks will outnumber whites in Brazil this year for the first time since slavery was abolished, but the income gap between the two groups may take another 50 years to bridge, according to a government study released Tuesday.

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Blacks generally earn 50 percent to 70 percent less than whites, and hold only 3.5 percent of management positions at Brazil’s 500 largest companies, according to the labor-union statistics institute Diesse.

A 2004 study by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro found the income gap between whites and blacks in Brazil was wider than in apartheid-era South Africa.

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In recent years, Brazil has created a system of quotas at public universities that has bridged the gap somewhat. But quotas are complicated in Brazil because of the high degree of mixing between races, and some critics say light-skinned people are taking spots reserved for blacks.

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The government study was released Tuesday to coincide with the 120th anniversary of abolition in Brazil. In 1888, Brazil became the last country in the Western hemisphere to end slavery.

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