Gender and Salaries of the Qualified
Workforce in Brazil and Mexico
Maria Cristina Cacciamali and Fábio Tatei

The unemployment rate for the wap in Mexico (3.7%) is lower than in Brazil (5.9%), due to lower activity in the adult population and a larger informal economy in Mexico, among other reasons. On the other hand, the lower participation of Mexican women in the labor market substantially reduces their unemployment as compared to Brazilian women. The unemployment rate for Brazilian women is practically double what it is for men — 8.2% and 4.2%, respectively. For Mexico, the numbers are practically the same — 3.9% and 3.6%, respectively. Besides this situation, there are two other results related to the unemployment rate. In both countries, this indicator behaves in accordance with age group. In other words, the rate is negatively correlated with age, and the difference in the unemployment rate between genders falls as age increases. This confirms the importance of professional experience in reducing the employment barrier for women (Table 2).

Also, the behavior of the unemployment rate by level of education is different in both countries. In Mexico, the unemployment rate is positively correlated with education, while in Brazil, the relationship between unemployment and education is an upside down U, lower for labor with less education and for those with university degrees, and greater for those with incomplete secondary studies. One of the reasons for this difference2 is a more dynamic qualified labor market in Brazil compared to lower levels of education and the opposite situation in Mexico, together with the chance for Mexicans to immigrate to the United States. In this way, semi-qualified labor has difficulties finding employment, either due to low education, or the complications of a specific type of job, affected by the fact that training is disorganized or non-existent, which further increases the information asymmetry of the labor market and reduces the chance of being hired (Table 3).

2 Most of the population in Brazil has an educational level equivalent to incomplete primary (34.5%), while 24.3% have finished secondary school and 12.3% can be classified as illiterate; 13.8% have complete or incomplete higher education and 9.1% have finished higher educational studies. By gender, women make up a greater percentage of persons with higher education than men, with 14.8% and 12.6%, respectively. The Mexican population is more educated; most have finished secondary school, with 37.3% and 15.9% have undergone higher educational training.