In the last 60 years, Brazilians have increased their life expectancy in almost 30 years. According to the Demographic Tendencies study, released today, May 25, by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) the life expectancy of the Brazilian population was 42.7 years in 1940, and reached 70.4 years in 2000.
Over the period there has been an ageing in the Brazilian population, and the number of people in the age group between 15 and 19 years has increased from 53% to 61.8%.
In 1940, women aged between 15 and 49 had an average of 6.2 children. The birth rate only started dropping in the 1960s, according to population counts by the institute, and the consolidation of this tendency was identified in the 1970s. In 2000, women had on average 2.3 children.
In 1940, the high birthrates, according to the IBGE, gave families "future workers." Brazil's 1934 federal constitution established that it was the state's duty to help families with many kids, in the belief that a high population growth would guarantee the country progress and development.
"In urban areas, the high cost of children, mainly due to education and health, and the female search for work opportunities, have contributed to the reduction of birth rates, added to the contraceptive methods adopted after the 1960s and to new standards of small families," according to the study.