Long notorious for slums and drug dens, São Paulo has the opportunity to solve its housing problems by 2020, according to the mayor of Brazil‘s biggest city.
Fernando Haddad, a former education minister who won election last year, said considerable improvements have already been made in the city and more would come, despite Brazil’s slow economic growth of late.
São Paulo’s favela slums are glaring symbols of its lingering poverty and inequality, problems that persist despite the dynamic commerce of a city that accounts for 12% of Brazil’s GDP.
Few countries can boast income inequality quite like Brazil. Now, current research shows that the incomes of low earners in Brazil have risen rapidly. But, will the improvements really help the country’s poor?
The perception that social inequality has been declining in Brazil can now be backed up with data. A study from the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), a Brazilian institution that works closely with the national government, shows a rapid retreat in economic disparity over the last 10 years. Inequality is now at its lowest point since census data began in the 1950s, the researchers say.
During the period between 2001 and 2011, income levels for Brazil’s poorest increased much faster than for the richest. The poorest 10 percent of the population nearly doubled their income during that time, while the richest increased their earnings by just one-sixth.
Reduction of inequality is “uncomfortable for some people in Brazil”, where now the poor are managing to travel by aircraft and enjoying a greater consumption capacity.
“The rich don’t have an idea what it means to have a 100 Real bill (75 US dollars) in his hand for a poor person”, whose salaries have “significantly increased” in recent years, said Lula da Silva who ruled from 2003 to 2010 and has been considered the most successful president in the last half century based on his public opinion support.
“The more unions and assemblies we have the better quality of jobs”, added the former president who was leader of the metal unions in Sao Paulo since the end of the seventies.
The city of Rio de Janeiro is infamous for the fact that one can look out from a precarious shack on a hill in a miserable favela and see practically into the window of a luxury high-rise condominium. Parts of Brazil look like southern California. Parts of it look like Haiti. Many countries display great wealth side by side with great poverty. But until recently, Brazil was the most unequal country in the world.
Today, however, Brazil’s level of economic inequality is dropping at a faster rate than that of almost any other country. Between 2003 and 2009, the income of poor Brazilians has grown seven times as much as the income of rich Brazilians. Poverty has fallen during that time from 22 percent of the population to 7 percent.