The Rich Versus The Poor: Income Disparity In Brazil


Brazil has seen the worst of COVID 19. Children, adults, and senior citizens are dying every day in alarming numbers. As of now, they have passed over 400,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The severity of the infection in Brazil has not only taken the lives of adults and elderly people, like the rest of the world, but also the lives of babies and toddlers. Children and adults alike are the victims of the vicious disease. And of course, like any other country, the poorest witness double the severity of the infections. In Brazil, the poorest are extremely poor compared to the richest of the country. The income disparity is alarming and plays a crucial role in the spread of COVID 19. 

Income disparity is a common problem in the south American region.  Many countries such as Ecuador, Honduras, Panama, and Brazil are suffering from the extreme condition of income inequality that is a detrimental effect of years of colonialism and authoritarian rules that exploited the rights of the weaker section of the society. The result of years of unfairness has led to a wide gap between the richest of the country and the poorest. Such is the case for Brazil. In fact, Brazil is the country with the world’s most extreme and highest income disparity and the gap with the  Gini coefficient amounting to 53.5. 

The unequal wealth distribution has left the country devastated in so many different ways, especially during the pandemic. The wider group of the society is poorer and has significantly less access to health care compared to the rich. The mortality rate is high among the members of those from lower socioeconomic households. The economic uncertainty and the employment rate declining certainly did not help brazils’ poor and extreme wealth distribution.

However, in all fairness, brazil has seen light in the face of inequality. Progress has been made with awareness, education, and humanitarian aids.  The slow yet undeniable progress has put many out of extreme poverty and violent situations. To be accurate almost 20 million people have been pulled out of poverty within the last decade.  On the other hand, while progress needs to be noted, the progress is nothing but painfully slow for the citizens of brazil.  With the aggressive progression of the pandemic, the numbers saw a decline, more and more people fell below the poverty line. As of January 2021, approximately 12 percent of the Brazilians were living on less than 8 dollars per day.  This is a level of extreme poverty as defined by the FGV social. Currently, more than 27 million people are living in this understood guideline of extreme poverty. 

Figures and studies suggest that it will take at least 75 years or more for Brazil to reach the standard of the United Kingdom in terms of equality in wealth while it will take 60 years to reach the Spanish standards. The progress takes a slow turn as a result of the rampant ongoing remnant of slavery in the country, xenophobia as well as racism integrated into the society. Brazillian history is filled with stories that lead to conflict, inequality, marginalization of black people and gender-based violence. All of the factors breed the inequality position in the country. 

Racism and prejudice truly pushed the country into the division of the rich and the poor, and certainly with not much middle ground in between. Those who are marginalized tend to live in living conditions that are considered less than adequate and safe for people.  Around 2 million people in Brazil live in slums and favelas which is also a by-product of the very discrimination and racism. Black people among Brazilians take up the majority of the lower-income jobs and informal jobs. It is said that at the current progress black people won’t see the day they earn the same as white people until the year 2089. And with the pandemic of course, we are expected to see a further push on the day we will see equality between wages.  

Covid 19 is also raging as a result of the cultivated income inequality. Poorer people who are subjected to constant discrimination tend to live in slums and households that are overcrowded and lack the privilege of social distancing. They also tend to work in informal and domestic jobs that require them to travel, take overcrowded buses and trains to work, and work in unsanitary conditions where standard operating procedures of covid 19 are barely met. People are in close contact, subjected to contaminated water as well as highly contaminated diseases. Paired up with the diseases and the rise in covid 19 viruses, the immune system is compromised and the defense is weak against the many diseases. This creates an already deeper complication in the recovery of Brazilians from the pandemic. 

The privileged get to stay home. While the poor have to go out and hustle for work, even in the pandemic. Many were unemployed as a result of the pandemic and were forced to travel far distances to earn an income for themselves and their families. The minimum wage was already the bare minimum, hence many have two to three odd jobs that help them carry out their financials. 

This discrepancy in income is not only harmful to Brazilians themselves, but also the economic prosperity. With the high wage gap between various groups, there is no way Brazil can get out of its economic uncertainties.  The economic recession, in turn, has many detrimental effects on the rising violence, the conflict between races, and instability in the community.

Brazil has a long way to go before it can attain true income equality in society. It will take years of empowerment, anti-poverty policies, reformation of tax systems and pension along with a more qualified and useful education system. Children should be given better access to secondary and higher education, especially for those coming from disadvantaged areas of brazil. Sufficient public transportation, health care, redistribution policies are major steps, but they are extremely crucial for the income equality of brazil. 

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