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Latin American countries experienced a significant reduction in income inequality at the turn of the twenty-first century. From the early 2000s to around 2012, the average Gini coefficient fell from 0.51 to 0.47. The period of falling inequality coincided with leftist presidential candidates achieving electoral victories across the region: by 2009, 11 of the 17 countries had a leftist president—the so-called Pink Tide. Using a difference-in-differences design, a range of econometric models, inequality measurements, and samples, this study finds evidence that leftist governments lowered income inequality faster than non-leftist regimes, increasing the income share captured by the first 7 deciles at the expense of the top 10 percent. The analysis suggests that this reduction was achieved by increasing social pensions, minimum wages, and tax revenue.
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