almost 25 years of stagnation in income per capita,
solidifying the worst distribution of income and wealth, the
irresponsible link to short term international capital, and
the permanence of neoliberal style political economy during
the 1990s could not result in a scenario other than the
predominance of poverty and the advance of social
Exclusion in Brazil and the World
exclusion has generally been treated in Brazil with an initial
focus related to the restriction of income.
Poverty lines are defined and from there programs of
transferring income are structured, often neglecting the
broader reality of the labor market.
priority has been given to the new processes of generating
social exclusion, nor to the relation between social exclusion
and concentration of wealth.
This text seeks to start from these focuses, in
addition to pointing toward a new methodology of calculating
social exclusion that might be able to serve as a parameter
for international comparisons.
the Brazilian case, social exclusion is configured as an
unquestionable mark of Brazilian capitalist development.
Slavery, predominant during more than three centuries
in the country, presents itself as the regime of social
after the Revolution of 1930 did the country move to spread
political rights. On the other hand, the presence of social
rights, strengthened by the Getúlio Vargas government, was
confined to, and only to, formal wage earners who were
employed in the cities.
majority of the population, which was located in the
countryside, remained legally excluded from access to social
and labor rights until the 1960s.
With the Rural Worker Statute, in 1963, and the
installation of Funrural, in 1967, the rural population moved
to having gradual access to social and labor rights.
These were equalized among the rural and urban
populations only in 1988, after the ratification of the new
fact, the Constitution of 1988 outlawed the concept of
regulated citizenship that permitted the access to health and
social welfare only for employees with a formal labor
advent of the Single Health System (SUS) and the innovation of
social security expanded access to social rights since the
practice of universalization of rights was practically
in 1974, for example, was there constituted, for the first
time, the offering of non-contributory social benefits
(Program of Social Integration and continued value benefit).
that, social exclusion in Brazil remained as a serious
problem. On one
hand, the old exclusion continued being the mark of less
developed geographic regions confronting the permanence of
poor education, absolute poverty and income inequality.
On the other hand, the new social exclusion also shows
its face in Brazil today, expanding rapidly through long-term
unemployment, youth alienation, poverty in single-parent
families, and absence of educational opportunities.
spite of a significant economic advance, with an average
annual rate of the Gross Domestic Product of almost 7.5
percent, it is noted that during the period between 1960
and1980 the majority of the population ended up not having
satisfactory access to the results of this progress.
the other hand, for the period between 1980 and 2000, the
evolution of social exclusion suffered a profound
to what occurred earlier, there was a combination of the low
expansion of economic activity with the advance of the
democratic political regime (1985-2000).
return of Brazilian democracy, with reorganization of
political party life, and with strengthening of unionism and
of social organizations, was accompanied by the absence of
sustained economic growth.
1980 and 2000, the national per capita income grew only 0.36
percent as an annual average, well below that which was
verified in the earlier period (1960-1980) when the per capita
income increased on average 4.58 percent annually.
In addition to certain stagnation in the evolution of
national per capita income, economic constraint was linked to
the predominance of a strong oscillation in economic activity,
accompanied by the manifestation of a long hyperinflationary
the face of the weak economic behavior, the performance of the
labor market was negative. The country also registered a
significant elevation in unstable occupations (work without
registration, self-employment, and working without pay) as
well as unemployment. The
latter grew to an annual average rate of more than 13 percent
during the 1990s, while the informal occupations increased, on
average, 2.4 percent annually.
The brutal loss of participation of wageworkers in the
national income – a drop from 45 percent to 36 percent
throughout the 1990s – also reveals a process of
de-structuring the national labor market.
the same way, tax reform that would establish fiscal justice
continues to be postponed. While rich people practically do not pay taxes, poor people
contribute to the majority of the fiscal burden. The absence
of social reform to guarantee a fair distribution of income
ends up imposing not only greater inequality of wealth, but
also an additional pressure inside the labor market.
In the face of insufficient income, the country has
more youths prematurely leaving the school system, at the same
time that retired and pensioned people are not quitting their
is not to say that the country has remained socially stagnant
in the last forty years. The re-democratization and the ratification of the
Constitution of 1988, contributed for an improvement in the
educational and health indices.
But, simultaneously, in the last twenty years, social
exclusion was reinforced by new processes.
this sense, the old social exclusion did not disappear.
The problem of the low levels of income and education
remain, but now under a new form.
Unemployment and informal labor contribute to breaking
social ties in a society that is each day more competitive,
where there exists a thirst for more sophisticated patterns of
consumption and in which violence unfolds as the fullest
symptom of social breakdown.
societies profoundly unequal and with low economic dynamism,
as is the Brazilian case, the expansion of social exclusion
only ought to be understood as the other face of a sterile
process of concentration of income and wealth.
the period between 1980 and 2000, there was an increase of the
percentage of rich families, from 1.8 to 2.4 percent.
Secondly, the average income of rich families went from
ten to fourteen times the average income of all Brazilian
city of São Paulo, which had 23.4 percent of the country’s
rich families in 1980, jumped to a participation in the
country’s total “richness” of forty percent.
Finally, in 2000, it is verified that the ten cities
with the greatest number of rich families concentrated sixty
percent of the income of the country’s well-off families.
means that the expansion wealth is no longer associated with a
long cycle that involves investment and the building of
productive chains. To
the contrary, it conforms to a restricted cycle of expanding
the wealthy, who instead of generating jobs, destroys the
system of production and labor.
there is a need for creating new parameters for measuring
attempt to surpass this limitation was the creation of an
indicator of Social Exclusion (IES), to verify new social and
economic indices, especially in Latin American countries.
IES data indicates that Brazil has one of the worst
distribution of income on the planet, together with Sierra
Leone and Guatemala, and has rates of homicide higher than
countries in a situation of civil war.
Thus, Brazil is the fifteenth world economy, with the
31st highest income per capita.
almost twenty-five years of stagnation of per capita income,
with solidification of the horrible distribution of income and
wealth, the irresponsible linking to short term international
capital, and the retention of neoliberal style political
economy in the 1990s could not result in any other scenario
than that of the predominance of poverty and the advance of
Adjunct professor at the Institute of Economy and
researcher at the Center for Union Studies and Labor
Economics at the State University of Campinas.
Municipality of São Paulo Secretary of
Development, Labor, and Solidarity.
For an alternative focus, aligned to access to universal
policies, and that articulates income transfer programs to
emancipating programs, see the experience of the São
Paulo Prefecture, Outra
Cidade É Possível: Alternativas de Inclusão Social em São
Paulo (São Paulo: Cortrez, 2003).
See this information in Atlas da Exclusão Social: Os
Ricos no Brasil, volume 3, São Paulo: Cortez, 2004.
Atlas da Exclusão Social: A Exclusão no Mundo, volume 4,
São Paulo: Cortez, 2004.