How are social conditions in Brazil related to, and affected by, economic circumstances?
The situation regarding social conditions in Brazil has always been complex. Issues have not aroused in the spur of a moment, rather been built up over decades. Some severe problems include education, sexuality and family relations. These, in turn, have been affected by many exterior factors, such as economic circumstances. The combination of these has led to a divided society with a high rate of poverty. We find ourselves facing an intractable net of interwoven problems where it is no longer possible to distinguish what influences what. One issue leads to another, and to solve one, one must address the other.
Social conditions are many, but those, which are to be assessed, are education, sexuality and family relations, and main focus will lie on how these have varied over time in Brazil. As portrayed in Dorte Verners and Erik Aldas report from 2004, published by the World Bank, statistics show a clear variation between youth born from 1980 to 1994 (mostly concerning children of 1987-1989), and between adults born prior to 1980. Education has continuously been an issue as over 50 percent of both youth and adults never completed primary school (Verner och Alda), however school attendance has improved as the attendance rate was at 68 percent in 1970 (year chosen due to the average age to be able to have children in the youth interval) as compared to 84 percent in 1988 (Paes de Barros, Mendonça och Rocha). Sexuality, being another issue, entails that sexual début occurs at a younger age and that teen pregnancy is more common. 61 percent of the youth had their sexual début before the age of 16 whilst 29 percent of the adults had theirs. Between the ages of 16 and 18, 45 percent of the young had their first child, 27 percent of the adults. The report also states that family relations have clearly differentiated; youth living with their biological fathers add up to 7 percent, living with their mothers 43 percent and 50 percent living without neither, in contrast to adults where 2 percent grew up without their fathers, 9 percent without their mothers and 89 percent with neither (Verner och Alda).
Three main economic circumstances to hold possible affect on these social conditions are income, poverty and unemployment. Simon Schwartzman presents facts regarding them all. He states that as no official poverty line has been set, the number of poor can vary from 10 to 45 million people, however he ascertained that in 2001, 20 percent of the families addressed had an income level per person of under 1 dollar per day, which is the World Bank poverty line. When looking at the distribution by income deciles and by area of residence, the rural areas are more unevenly distributed and affected by poverty than urban areas. 27 percent of rural inhabitants compared to just fewer than 10 percent of the urban population fall in the lowest income bracket or decile. If looking at statistics from an earlier time, such as 1988, which falls into the exact interval of age mostly mentioned concerning social conditions, one can see that “the added income of the richest 1% of the population has been higher than the added income of 50% of the poor”. The poorer held 11 percent of the total income, compared to the richer holding 15 percent at this time (Schwartzman). Verner and Aldas, as mentioned before, show that amongst the different generations of now and then, unemployment is an issue. 39 percent of the young declared themselves as unemployed in 2004 contra 28 of the adults (Verner och Alda). The affects these economic circumstances hold on social conditions are many and will be disclosed further into the essay.
Summary of academic articles
In May 2004 the World Bank published a survey addressing poverty in the poorest areas of Brazil. Statistics were gathered by questioning inhabitants of three of the most...
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