The immense economical development of Brazil has not eradicated completely the social problems and inequalities of the country as a wide gap between rich and poor still remains. It is indicative that the richest 10% of Brazilians receiving 42.7% of the nation's income, while the poorest 10% receive less than 1.2%. Nevertheless, Brazilian government is constantly trying to reach this gap. In 2002, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was elected president promising social reforms that intended to lift millions of Brazilians from poverty, create jobs and income. The aforementioned objective was partially reached as the innovative social programs taken by the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are still gradually decreasing social inequality. One of the main actions taken towards this direction was the creation of the Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger (MSD) in January 2004. The goal of the ministry is to promote social inclusion, food and nutrition security, full social assistance and a minimum citizen income to the families living in poverty.
The social policies of MDS are integrated in a system of social protection and promotion that currently benefits about 65 million people on poverty status, through several programmes, such as: the Bolsa Familia Programme of conditional cash transfer; the Continuous Cash Benefit (BPC), the Programme of Acquisition of Food of the Small Landowner (PAA); the Cisterns Programme; the Programme of Integral Attention to the Family (PAIF); and the Programme of the Eradication of Child Labour (PETI).
One of the first priorities that the new government of Mrs. Dilma Rousseff, announced when inaugurated on January 1, 2011, was the continuation of fight against extreme poverty. In accordance to this, President Rousseff has launched the Brasil sem Miseria (Brazil without Extreme Poverty) programme, a series of further measures aimed at helping Brazil's poorest people. The purpose of the programme, that was official announced on 02 June 2011, is to lift 16.2 million Brazilians out of extreme poverty through cash transfer initiatives, increased access to education, health, welfare, sanitation and electricity, and productive inclusion. This flagship program of the federal government will create new programs and expand existing initiatives in partnership with states, municipalities, public and private companies and civil society organizations to extend the opportunities generated by Brazilian strong economic growth to the citizens in greater need.
Additionally, Brazilian authorities announced that Bolsa Familia will now be guided by a philosophy of busca ativa (active search), seeking out families who are entitled to the payments but do not receive it due to geographical isolation, lack of information, or administrative problems. As a consequence it is anticipated that an extra 800,000 families will receive assistance by the end of 2013.
Despite the sincere attempts of Brazilian authorities, there is still a lot of distance to cover in order to fully eradicate social inequalities as the country still experiences extreme regional differences, especially regarding health, infant mortality and nutrition indicators. The aforementioned inequalities are more intensive in the poorer North and Northeastern regions than in the richer South and Southeast areas. Additionally, socioeconomic inequality can be tracked in several domains of everyday living and entails subtle forms of residential, educational, and workplace discrimination. The discrimination is delineated in such ways that members of distinct socioeconomic strata tend to live, work, and circulate in a completely different socio-economic environment.
According to the Gini coefficient index the country scores 0.49. The Gini coefficient is measuring the inequality of distribution, with a value of 0 expressing total equality and a value of 1 maximal inequality. It is commonly used as a measure of inequality of income or wealth. Worldwide, Gini coefficients for income, range from approximately 0.23 (Sweden) to 0.70 (Namibia) although not every country has been assessed.
Economical growth and stability are the two main indicators of the Brazilian socio-economical status quo. Though, strong social inequalities still remain at relatively high levels and undoubtedly this is a problem that should be resolved by the Brazilian government.
Epicos Newsletter Head Editor