Brazil’s Minister of Labor, Luiz Marinho, says that the fall in economic inequality shown in the 2004 Household Survey (Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de DomicÀlios) (Pnad), shows that Brazil is on the right track of development.
The survey was conducted by the government statistical bureau (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística) (IBGE) and according to Marinho reflects the fact that it is possible for income distribution to occur even for very poor families that have always been beyond the reach of the benefits of citizenship.
The survey found that there was a drop of 0.3% in the wealth of the country’s richest 5%, while there was an increase of 3.2% in the wealth of the country’s poorest 50%.
With regard to the country’s mininum wage, now at R$ 300 (US$135), Marinho said he was in favor of a policy that would guarantee permanent increases in the purchasing power of the minimum wage. But he added it was going to be difficult to raise it to 400 reais (US$ 181) next year.
The United Nations Human Development Report, released in September, analyzed 177 countries and concluded that Brazil ranks eighth (from worst to best) in terms of social inequalities.
The report shows that 46.9% of the Brazilian income is concentrated in the hands of the wealthiest 10% of the population.
"There are only five countries in which the poorest 10% of the population commands a smaller share of national income than poor Brazilians do (0.7%). [They are]Venezuela and Paraguay (0.6%), and Sierra Leone, Lesotho, and Namibia (0.5%)," the document informed.
First on the list of the world’s most unequal countries, in which income is most unevenly distributed, is Namibia, in Africa, followed by five other African countries: Lesotho, Botswana, Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic, and Swaziland. Seventh place is held by a Central American country, Guatemala.
A country’s degree of social inequality is determined by the Gini coefficient, named after Corrado Gini, the Italian statistician, demographer, and sociologist who developed the index in the early part of the 20th century.