Note from BW of Brazil: It’s all in the numbers! It’s pretty easy for someone to say that “we Brazilians are all equal”, but what do the social statistics that measure the quality of life reveal? Here on this blog, we often feature reports, stories and personal reflections that provide a little insight into what it means to be black in Brazil, but sometimes all we need to do to know the truth is to look at the numbers. It may give you a warm sensation inside to say/hear that factors such as race and gender don’t matter, but when we consider areas such as income, education, life expectancy, illiteracy, and poverty, another reality presents itself. The fact is, even with improvements in the past decade and a half due to the promotion of affirmative action policies, inequalities between Brazil’s white and non-white population remain as consistent as groundbreaking studies of racial inequalities in the 1960s and 70s (see here and here).
The inequality between blacks and whites in a graph
In a decade, inequality between whites and blacks has dropped by half thanks to advances in education – but blacks still have a 14% lower HDI
By Talita Abrantes of Exame with additional info courtesy of R7
A black man in Brazil earns, on average, half the income of a white man. According to a study released on Wednesday (10) by the Brazilian office of the Programa das Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento (PNUD) (UNDP or United Nations Development Program) based on data from the National Household Sample Survey (Pnad/IBGE).
In practice, according to the report, Brazilian blacks took 10 years to reach the Índice de Desenvolvimento Humano (IDHM) (or Human Development Index – HDI) experienced by whites in 2000. Even so, the HDI of this group of society continued to advance and in 2010 was 14.4% higher than blacks.
In 2000, the HDI of the white population was 27.1% higher than the HDI of the black population, while in 2010, the HDI of whites was 14.42% higher than the HDI of blacks,” said the researchers.
When factors are observed by states, the highest percentage differences between the white population’s HDI and that of black population in 2010 were observed in Rio Grande do Sul (13.9%), Maranhão (13.9%) and Rio de Janeiro (13.4%) and, on the other hand, the lowest percentage differences were registered in the states of Amapá (8.2%), Rondônia (8.5%) and Sergipe (8.6%).
“This means that in some Federative Units, such as Rio de Janeiro, the average per capita household income of the white population is more than twice as high as the per capita household income of the black population: R$1,445.90 against R$ 667.30,” researchers explained. “Or, in (the state of) Alagoas, the percentage of the white population above 18 years of age with a completed elementary school education is more than a third higher than that of the black population, 50% against 36%.”
On the other hand, the largest reduction in the difference between white and black HDI in 2000 and 2010 was observed in Santa Catarina, which presented a reduction of 0.047. Espírito Santo (.042) and Mato Grosso do Sul (.042) also showed a high reduction in the difference in the HDI of whites and blacks from one year to the other. On the other hand, Roraima increased by 0.033 in the difference between the white and black HDI, from 2000 to 2010.
% of people older than 18 that completed primary school – Rate of gross frequency of college education (18-24 years of age) (%) – Proportion of extremely poor – Percentage of population that live in homes with bathroom and running water
The data show that the life experience of a person with black skin color is more difficult than that of the white person in every way. Blacks also live less, study less, and live in homes with worse infrastructure.
Average per capita income
But within a decade, inequality between the two groups fell by half thanks in no small measure to the advancement of blacks in education. Here lies a clue as to how to correct years of social injustice.