Olinto MA, Olinto BA. Raça e desigualdade entre as mulheres: um exemplo no sul do Brasil. [Race and inequality among women: an example in southernBrazil.] Cadernos de Saúde Pública [Public Health Notebooks] (Río de Janeiro, Brazil) 2000 October-December; 16(4):1137-1142.

Objectives:To demonstrate socioeconomic dimensions of differences created by racism in Brazilian society.

Design:Population-based study, with a representative sample of 2,779 women between the ages of 15 and 49 who lived in a city in southern Brazil.

Theoretical framework:The study was based on an analysis of inequalities and race relations, taking a critical look at the myth of “racial democracy” in Brazil. The study likewise argues that an understanding of social exclusion cannot be limited to offering generalizations that deal only with differences of region or gender and overlook socioeconomic distinctions within these differences.

Patients or participants:Women between the ages of 15 and 49 living in the city of Pelotas, Río Grande do Sul, Brazil.


Principal results:84.6% of the women interviewed were white, 7.7% were mulatto (“pardas”), and 7.7% were black. White women had an average of 8.8 years of schooling, while the figure for mulatto women was 6.9 and for black women, 6.6. Differences in family income showed that white women had an income nearly 1.5 times greater than mulatto women and 2.5 times higher than black women. Although 95% of the homes in the city of Pelotas overall had drinking water, this percentage dropped to 82% of black women’s homes. Mulatto and black women entered into a larger number and higher percentage of informal marriage arrangements. A higher percentage of both, as compared to white women, were widows, a condition especially prevalent among black women. 13.6%of black women lived alone, versus 7.9% of mulatto women and 8.6% of white women. Similar differences were observed in reproductive behavior. White women with higher family incomes had fewer children than mulatto or black women. 40% of black women did not use any method of birth control.

Conclusions:The study demonstrates the importance, as in the case of gender, of analyzing differences that exist within categories of inequality.

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico