More than half of the Brazilian population now belongs to the middle class or at least that’s what Brazilians are being told. According to a recent report, the middle class in Brazil during the last decade expanded to reach 90 million out of a population of almost 200 million, according to DataFolha.
The survey, which takes into account only Brazilians over 16 years, considers three layers of middle class: the upper middle, the middle middle class, and the lower middle class. The first one has 19% of the population, the second, 26%, and the third 18%.
One factor that unites the three groups is the access to consumer durables, including appliances, computers and cars. On the other hand, the upper middle class’s members have more education and higher income than the other two.
The upper echelon represents 27 million people, while the middle group has 37 million and the lower one counts on 26 million.
The survey also showed that in 2011, the excluded (the so-called classes D and E) accounted for 28% of the population or 39 million people while the upper class had 9% of the population or 12 million Brazilians.
According to a classification adopted by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), classes in Brazil, from A to E, are determined by the number of minimum wages a family makes. The minimum wage since January 1st is 622 reais (US$ 354).
Class A comprises gross household income above 30 minimum wages, Class B: from 15 to 30 minimum wages, Class C (normally known as the middle class): 6 to 15 minimum wages, Class D: 2 to 6 and Class E: less than 2 minimum wages.
So, a family from the middle class may make from 3,732 reais (US$ 2,125) (low middle class) to 9.330 (US$ 5,313), which would be considered upper middle class.
“Brazil is a middle class country, 6 out of 10 Brazilians over 16 years already belong to that group”, points out the daily Folha de S. Paulo based on the DataFolha report.
“The increase in income (of C bracket, included in the middle class), which does not seem much for the Brazilian elite, has represented a real revolution for the dispossessed classes of the country,” says economist Marcelo Neri from the internationally prestigious Rio based Getúlio Vargas Foundation think tank.
However “middle class is not homogeneous since is includes very different sub-groups and there is an ample number of indicators on income, education and access to consumer goods”.
The poorest Brazilians in the wide spectrum described as middle class are those who are managing to escape from bracket E and are still very vulnerable, points out the report from DataFolha.
Last week the Brazilian ministry to combat hunger announced the launching of a campaign to identify 320.000 indigent families that receive no federal subsidy as part of the overall program to help 17 million Brazilians climb out of extreme poverty.