In 2000, Brazil was in 100th place on the UN list of countries ranked by infant mortality rates. At that time Brazil’s infant mortality rate was 30.1 deaths during the first year of life per 1,000 births.
According to the latest survey by the government statistical bureau (IBGE) (Tábua da Vida 2004), Brazil’s infant mortality rate is now 26.6 deaths per 1.000 births, and the country has risen to 99th place on the UN list.
For the sake of comparison, Iceland is in first place with an infant mortality rate of 3.2 deaths per 1,000 births. In the US there are 6.5 deaths per 1,000 births.
The same study shows that in Brazil life expectancy for women is greater than for men and that the main reason for the difference is violence. The survey covered the period from 1984 to 2004.
According to the IBGE, in 1984, women lived an average 6 years and one month more than men. In 2004 the difference had risen to 7 years and six months, even though overall life expectancy for all Brazilians had risen slightly over 10 years.
"There is a close relationship between male deaths, especially young males, and deaths which have external causes," says the report. Translation: males get killed while they are young; women live on to an old age.
According to the Tábua da Vida survey, life expectancy is 71 years and seven months in Brazil which puts the country in 82nd place on the list of 192 nations ranked by the UN.
In first place on the UN list is Japan, where life expectancy is 81 years and nine months – or ten years more than in Brazil.
In regional terms, Brazil is behind 15 other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where Costa Rica is in first place, followed by Chile and Cuba.
Brazil is also behind Venezuela, Colombia (where there is a civil war), Ecuador and even tiny Belize. Brazil is in front of 13 countries, among them Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and the Dominican Republic.