RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil made important progress against poverty and chronic inequality during the decade 2004-2014, but could have done even more before the onset of the current economic crisis, according to a study released Wednesday.
“The intensity of changes could have been greater, particularly in the area of improvements related to inequality,” the official Institute for Applied Economic Research, or Ipea, said.
Even though the effects of the economic downturn were starting to be felt in 2014, Brazil was able to continue reducing poverty and inequality.
The study was based on data from the 2014 edition of the PNAD household survey.
“PNAD 2014 showed that the Brazilian reality continued a clear process of social change, even though the disturbances in the economy were evident in 2014, which is reflected in the increase in the unemployment rate starting in September of that year,” Ipea said.
Using World Bank criteria that defines as poor households with incomes of less than $3.10 a day, Brazil slashed poverty from 24.95 percent of the population in 2004 to 10.10 percent in 2013, and then to a record low of 8.54 percent in 2014.
Extreme poverty – household income of less than $1.90 a day – was reduced from 12.35 percent of the population in 2004 to 3.9 percent last year.
Inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient on a scale of zero to one, with zero representing absolute equality, fell from 0.57 in 2004 to 0.51 in 2014.
Median household income in Brazil grew from $11.13 a day in 2004 to $17.44 in 2014.
Ipea credited the gains to the anti-poverty programs instituted during the 2003-2011 government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and continued by his successor and political protege, Dilma Rousseff.
Those advances were maintained in 2014, despite Brazil’s economic woes, according to the report.
Brazil is set to end 2015 with the largest economic contraction, 3.7 percent, and worst inflation, 10.72 percent, in 25 years.