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

Social situation Poverty and food insecurity on the rise again

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 1990, one fifth of the Brazilian population was still living in extreme poverty, in 2014 that figure was only 2.7 per cent, but by 2019 it had gone back up to 4.6 per cent. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic the number of poor people has risen even further. Disadvantaged population groups have been particularly affected, but so have young, well-educated people in the cities who have lost their jobs as a result of the latest economic crisis.

People’s access to adequate food has deteriorated significantly. According to a study carried out in March 2021, over 116 million people – more than half the population – does not enjoy food security.

Extreme inequality

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) – a measure of income inequality – is one of the highest in the world. Indigenous and Afro-Brazilian population groups are especially socially and economically disadvantaged.


As at: 21/04/2022