Children on a playground in the Favela Mangueira in Rio de Janeiro

Social situation Great development progress and big challenges

Under the governments of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003 to 2010) and Dilma Rousseff (2010 to 2016), Brazil made remarkable social progress. Millions of new jobs were created, minimum wages and pensions were continuously raised, and incomes grew.

Brazil launched the world’s biggest poverty reduction programme and a large-scale social housing programme. In addition, large parts of the country were connected to the power grid and headway was made on reforming land rights.

Whereas, in 1992, one fifth of the Brazilian population was still living in extreme poverty, in 2014 that figure was only 2.7 per cent. However, over the last few years – and particularly since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic – the number of poor people has risen again. It is not only the poorest population groups who have been affected. Young, well-educated adults living in the cities have also lost their jobs as a result of the latest economic crisis.

The differences in the distribution of property and income between the regions and between different groups within the Brazilian population are considerable. Brazil’s Gini coefficient (External link), which measures income inequality, is one of the biggest in the world. Indigenous and Afro-Brazilian population groups are especially socially disadvantaged.

Human rights

Brazil has signed the main international human rights treaties. However, there is considerable need for action with regard to ensuring all individual liberties within the country. The level of violence in Brazil and the country’s murder rate are among the highest in the world. For many people living in the megacities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, in particular, drug- and gang-related crimes are part of everyday life. The police often respond with excessive force.

Human rights observers regularly report evidence of extrajudicial executions by police officers. According to these reports, environmental campaigners and human rights defenders in particular have frequently been the victims of attacks, threats and intimidation attempts by government authorities and criminal networks.