Go Back

Brazzil - People - April 2004

Income Gap Still Huge in Brazil

New numbers by Brazil's statistical bureau show that income
distribution among Brazilians continues to be a serious problem.
While 40 percent of Brazilian households have to get by on half
a minimum wage per month (US$ 41.50) per person, the top
10 percent live on more than US$ 8,000 a month.

Marina Domingos

Brazzil Picture The government statistical bureau (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística) (IBGE), has released its 2002 Household Survey (Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílio) (PNAD/2002) in which the residents of some 110,000 homes were interviewed.

The survey found that the vast majority of Brazilians, 87.6 percent, live in houses. Only 11.8 percent live in apartments. Fully 91 percent of the houses were built with brick and mortar, although many homes in the North region were wooden structures.

A total of 74 percent of the homes the survey visited were owned by the residing family, with 17 percent of the families visited renting their homes. Another 9 percent lived with other people or family.

A total of 89.3 percent of the families interviewed said they had satisfactory water services (running water piped into their homes). The highest level of satisfaction with water services were in the cities of São Paulo and Curitiba. According to the survey, in 2002, 87.1 percent of residences had daily garbage collection, up from 76 percent in 1992.

With regard to jobs, the survey found that 29.1 percent of youths between the ages of 18 and 19 only worked and did not study. A total of 23.8 percent of youths between the ages of 15 and 24 had jobs with wages of up to a Brazilian minimum wage (US$ 83 per month), while 16.1 percent of them had jobs with salaries of over two minimum wages.

There are striking disparities in educational opportunities among Brazilians. For example, the survey found that only 11.7 percent of Brazilian children aged up to three had access to daycare facilities. Things improve in elementary education (ages 7 to 14 with an attendance rate of 96.9 percent) because it is mandatory and the government provides incentives, such as the School Scholarship program which pays parents to keep their children in school. The high school attendance rate is around 75 percent for youths from low-income families, and rises to 97 percent for those from upper-class backgrounds.

Almost all those interviewed during the survey, 99.4 percent, said they had public illumination and electricity. Of those, 91.4 percent said they had a refrigerator, 89.9 percent had color television. But only 18 percent had a freezer, and 38.1 percent had a washing machine.

The survey also showed that the digital gap still exists in Brazil. Although slightly over 60 percent of all homes have hard line telephones, only 16.3 percent of the households surveyed had computers, and out of those only 12 percent had an internet link.

Income distribution is another problem that persists. The survey found that in spite of government attempts to reduce disparities a total of 40 percent of Brazilian households have to get by on half a minimum wage per month (US$ 41.50) per person. At the other extreme, 10 percent of Brazilians live on more than 9.6 minimum wages per month (almost US$ 8,000).

The survey studied statistics and found that the number of marriages in 2002 was down 4 percent, compared to 1992. It also found that people are getting married at a later date. In 1992, the average age women got married was 23.7 and men 27. In 2002, that had risen to 26.7 and 30.3, respectively.

On the downside of marriage, separations were up 30.7 percent and divorces 55.9 percent, during the same period. The average length of a marriage in Brazil, according to the survey, is 10.5 years. The average age that women get a divorce is 35, and men 37.7.

Marina Domingos works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.
Translated by Allen Bennett

Discuss it in our Forum

Send your comments to Brazzil

Anything to say about Brazil or Brazilians? Brazzil
wishes to publish your material. See what to do.