In Brazil, better lives

©Reuters/Handout

Brazil has experienced a considerable shift over the last decade as a result of its economic growth. Social inequality has decreased and income distribution has become more evenly distributed. These tangible changes are reflected in the increased confidence of the Brazilian population. Demand is higher and priorities have changed, leading to a change in both the government and the private sector as well. 

Having overcome great adversity, Brazil is now seen as an example for other nations. In less than a decade, the country has moved from such setbacks as a military coup and an impeached President to hosting several of the world’s most prominent international events. Efficient public policies have been key to the country’s newfound economic stability and allowed the Brazilian population to drive these improvements.

Contributing to Brazil’s socioeconomic growth is part of the mission of the FGV Foundation. To accomplish this, the foundation collects and analyses data used in the development of effective government policies. For example, one study “Back to the Country of the Future: Forecasts, European Crisis and the Brazilian New Middle Class”, shows how a strong economy helped some 30 million Brazilians join the middle class over the past decade as national GDP grew continuously, despite the international crisis.

In this study the director of the Social Policies Center of FGV Foundation, Marcelo Neri, and his team projected Brazil’s economic growth and reduction of inequality from the 2003-2009 period until 2014. The projections show sharp improvements, with some 67.8 million Brazilians, a population greater than that of the UK, ascending out of poverty to higher income groups.

The authors point out that “if we continue the trend of upward mean growth and downward inequality observed in every Brazilian state since 2003, we will have around 118 million people in class C by 2014 and 29.1 million in classes AB, compared to 65.8 million and 13.3 million, respectively, in 2003.” The authors note that this fact is “especially remarkable” when the shrinking of consumer markets in developed countries due to the international crisis is taken into account.

This improvement is a result of financial regulations which were crucial in containing the effects of the global economic crisis of 2008 on the Brazilian economy. Such measures have played an essential role in improving the quality of life for the people of Brazil. Yet social inequality remains a major concern, linked to infrastructure issues. These are now being dealt with by the government. Many may argue about the “immediatist” nature of the State, but with solid governance such as we have seen in Rio de Janeiro’s breakthrough security strategies, it is possible to foresee long-term development as a legacy of public and private collaboration.

The study also shows that each individual Brazilian life is considered better than that of the Brazilian collective. It points to Gallup World Poll data based on subjective questions about the respondent´s expectation of life satisfaction five years ahead, where it calls Brazil “four times world champions”. On the other hand, in the question on the country’s ranking for the same period and same scale, the rating drops two points. Brazil ranks ninth in the world, with the largest difference between individual and collective ratings. The nation’s general happiness is expected to be less than the sum of each person’s happiness.

How can each Brazilian give such a high rating for their own particular lives while giving such a low rating for the lives of the population as a whole? The authors believe that the optimism and the difficulty of living in a group make Brazilians, as La Fontaine’s fable might have put it, more grasshopper than ant. The good news is that as the country works on its collective problems, Brazilian society will be able to leap ahead. By collective problems, the authors refer to the lack of democracy, inflation, inequality, informality, lack of basic sanitation, and violence. As long as Brazil addresses these legacies, the country will no longer be the country of the past that considers itself the country of the future, and it will be able to become the country of the present.

Brazil has reached a critical “make or break” point in its history and such data are essential to help establish strategies that will guarantee sustainable economic growth. Regardless of individual pessimism, collective happiness is a first step in maintaining newly acquired standards and pushing for future improvements.

See: 

Neri, Marcelo (2012), “Back to the Country of the Future: Forecasts, European Crisis and the Brazilian New Middle Class” FGV Foundation, Brazil.

www.fgv.br/en

See also: 

OECD Observer (2011), "Special Focus: Brazil", Q4 2011. 

Create Your Better Life Index 

©OECD Observer No 290-291, Q1-Q2 2012




Economic data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Low interest rates here to stay for half a century, says OECD director Adrian Blundell-Wignall.
  • OECD speak on support it will offer to Greek
  • 3.4 bn people or 56% of the world's population live only just above the global poverty line, on US$2-10 a day. The global middle class is both smaller and poorer than thought. Read more about the results of this Pew Research Centre's new study on the Financial Times.
  • Resale of charity shop rejects has destroyed Kenya's local textile industry but a proposed ban on the importation of used garments risks putting thousands out of work. Read more about this economic dilemma on The Guardian.
  • Bill Gates visited the OECD on 26 June. He met with the Secretary-General Angel Gurría to discuss areas of collaboration with his foundation and participated at a briefing session on official development assistance modernisation with OECD experts.
  • "Countries that are home to high proportions of immigrants tend to have better integration outcomes”, according to the OECD Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015, released on 2 July 2015. Read more on The Guardian.
  • The People’s Republic of China decided to enhance longstanding collaboration with the OECD and to join the OECD Development Centre, in a historic visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on 1 July to the OECD in Paris.
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • One dollar in aid for trade generates eight dollars in extra trade for all developing countries and 20 dollars for low-income countries. Read OECD Secretary General's post on the newly released Aid for Trade at a glance 2015.
  • Catherine Mann, OECD Chief Economist, explains on Bloomberg why "too much bank lending can slow economic growth".
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .
  • Come va la vita in Italia? How's life in Italy? The OECD Better Life Index is an interactive online platform in seven languages that goes beyond GDP by offering important insights into measuring well-being and quality of life. Try it for yourself!
  • What does it mean to live on less than US$2 a day? Xavier Godinot, Delegate for International Affairs of ATD 4th World and René Locqueneux, a member of this NGO, gave an insightful presentation on the topic based on their field experience, at the 2015 OECD Forum.
  • How to jump-start slack investment to drive global growth and jobs dominated discussions at the annual OECD Ministerial Council Meeting, chaired by the Netherlands, which ended 4 June.
  • The IMF calls for a decisive energy subsidy reform in order to use the freed resources to meet critical public spending needs and to reduce pollution ahead of the Paris climate change summit.
  • More than 35 million young people, aged 16-29, across OECD countries are neither employed nor in education or training according to the newly released OECD Skills Outlook.
  • Have a look at these posters representing a world without fundamental rights at work – including child labour, forced labour and inequality. Read more about this ILO image competition here.
  • Rising inequality threatens social cohesion and growth. Income inequality has reached historical highs in most OECD countries and is still rising.
  • Time to vote! As the dust settles after the UK general election, let’s remember that voting at the ballot box is not an innate right enjoyed by everyone. Indeed, although the number of democracies across the world has spiked from 48 in 1989 up to 95 today, billions of people are still living in non-democratic, authoritarian regimes.
  • How can we achieve a zero-carbon future? A new World Bank report provides a few insights.
  • Today alcohol causes more deaths worldwide than HIV/AIDS, violence and tuberculosis combined. In order to reduce damages to health, the OECD recommends that regular drinkers reduce their consumption by one unit a week, that is, a small glass of wine for example. In addition, increasing prices, regulating advertising, effectively treating drinking problems together with stricter police enforcement would greatly contribute to reducing damages done to individuals and society.
  • video alcohol
  • Africa vs profit shifting African countries heavily rely on the income generated by multinationals’ taxation, which can represent as much as 88% of a country’s tax base. Little wonder Africa is involved in the OECD’s initiative to address tax base erosion caused by profit shifting, known as BEPS. The need to strengthen inter-governmental co-operation to curb cross-border tax losses was reaffirmed at the Africa Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) in Sandton on 21 April 2015.
  • Africa v. profit shifting
  • Rana Plaza
  • Wal-Mart, Other Retailers Sued over Bangladesh Factory Collapse Two years after the April 24, 2013, Bangladeshi factory collapse in the capital of Dhaka, the victims' families filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court in Washington against Wal-Mart Stores Inc and other U.S.-based companies that sourced out their products from the Rana factory. Read more on Telesur's website.
  • #OECD360: Your country in figures.
  • How to ensure transparency in public procurement? Read Cobus de Swardt's article on OECD Insights.
  • After three decades of extraordinary economic development, China is shifting to a slower and more sustainable growth path, according to the OECD's latest Economic Survey of China.
  • In pursuit of the American Dream
  • Tim Harcourt Video
  • G20 and Australia: Bestselling economist Tim Harcourt speaks to the BBC about how Australia has gone from "Down Under to Down Wonder".

Most Popular Articles

Poll

What issue are you most concerned about in 2015?

Euro crisis
Unemployment
Global warming
International conflict
Other

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2015