In the midst of a transition between two governments, the main title of the first page of Sunday’s edition of the leading Brazilian newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, was devoted to education and inequality. This is the main striking point and a good one, since how education succeeds in reducing inequalities should be one of the major concerns of a country.
The opportunity for the article was one recent research by Guilherme Lichand e Maria Eduarda Perpètuo (University of Zurich) and Priscila Soares (Universidade de Sao Paulo), published by SSRN (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4250539).
The results aren’t anything new in essence, but very interesting: although a higher school degree means better incomes, in Brazil “economic elites have captured 59-65% of the average wage premium within primary and secondary education, and 30% of that at the college level” (p. 13). That means that a person with a privileged background earns 59% more than another one, with a low-income background, even if they have both a secondary education degree.
This phenomenon is well-documented in many countries, including Europe and Italy, it is known as the direct effect of social origin, net of own achieved education, and it’s maybe the more hateful form of inequality.