The network structure of inequality and regional occupational dynamics in the brazilian labor market

Hartmann, Dominik (1); Jara-Figueroa, Cristian (2); Kaltenberg, Mary (3) (2018). 'The Network Structure of Inequality and Regional Occupational Dynamics in the Brazilian Labor Market' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.


One’s occupation means more than what one does to earn a living, but as sociologists have long argued, occupations also reflect prestige, status and opportunities within an economy and in consequence represent the structure of inequality. Especially in developing economies, different occupational groups often live in different worlds. For instance, in Brazil, highly-skilled managers, engineers or admins working in manufacturing, finance or chemical industries, live next to poor and often functionally illiterate people working in simple activities such as housing services, street commerce or subsistence agriculture. Despite being spatially close, these socioeconomic groups have different human capabilities and structural opportunities to be active agents of development. In this article, we apply methods from network science to reveal the structural segregation of 50 million Brazilian workers into different industry linked occupational communities. We introduce the Brazilian industry-occupation space (BIOS) that captures the socioeconomic distance between different types of occupations based on the industries they share. A network community detection algorithm allows for the identification of 12 structurally separated groups in the BIOS, and network overlays help to reveal the average education, wage, inequality and network distance between the groups. We can observe that the socioeconomic worlds apart between different occupational groups are not only shaped by income and education, but also significantly by the industries which the occupational groups share. Additionally, we show that the density of related occupations in the Brazilian Industry-Occupation Space is a significant predictor of regional occupational dynamics, even after controlling for demand replacement factors, population size, and educational differences. Our results imply that the human capabilities of different socioeconomic groups are not only shaped by factors such as income or education, but are also significantly determined by work structures and the spatial difference in the production and labor markets of regions. In consequence, social, industrial and labor market policies may need to complement each other to reduce the structural worlds apart between different socioeconomic groups. 

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