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A Shocking Comparison Of Poverty Levels Between The U.S. And Brazil

Nov. 08, 2011 7:57 AM ET7 Comments
David Hunkar profile picture
David Hunkar

The percentage of population living in poverty continues to decline in Brazil but is increasing in the U.S. in recent years.

The following chart shows the decline in poverty and income distribution in Brazil since 1990:

(Click to enlarge)

Source: Economic Survey of Brazil, OECD

The OECD report notes that the poverty rate has declined by half since 1993 and urges urges that the remarkable progress must be continued to further reduce high levels of inequality and poverty. According to OECD data, the number of people living below the poverty line declined from 42.98 million in 1993 to just 21.42 million in 2009.

Brazil is a developing country with a population of 203 million while the U.S. is an advanced economy with a population of 313 million.

The following chart shows the number of Americans living in poverty and the poverty rate from 1959 to 2010:

(Click to enlarge)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The sharp differences in poverty levels between Brazil and U.S. are shocking as displayed in the above graphs.

Since 2000, the number of people living in poverty in the U.S. has increased steadily to reach 46.2 million or about 15% of the total population. On the other hand, the number of Brazilians living in poverty stands at about 11% of the total population now.

On a related note, Forbes magazine’s “The World’s Billionaires” for 2011 lists 413 billionaires in the U.S. compared with 30 in Brazil. Forbes also laments that the U.S. is producing billionaires at a slower rate than in the past.

As more and more wealth is transferred into the hands of the top 1% of the U.S. population due to misguided government policies, the unfortunate among the rest of the 99% is further pushed into abject poverty. The social implications of this situation is huge as evidenced by the

This article was written by

David Hunkar profile picture
David Hunkar (pseudonym) holds a Masters Degree in Finance and Economics. He is a part-time consultant for a financial consulting firm where he manages portfolios for manages portfolios for self and family. He has been an investor for the past ten years. David focuses on foreign stocks trading in the US markets including the OTC market. He concentrates on high dividend yield and dividend growth stocks. ETFs are his another favorite investment vehicle. In addition to his contributions here at Seeking Alpha, you can also visit him at his blog www.topforeignstocks.com

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Comments (7)

PoodleHeadMikey profile picture

Remember the French Revolution?

Well; we have that in the US every month.

The difference in the US is that now when the peasants get to the gates of the Bastille the door cracks open a hair and a check pops out for them. The rich have been protecting themselves from having to face the pitchforks and funding it with the middle class's money. That lesson was well learned in the 1930's. I should tell you what my grandfather did for a living then.


"We will not have a revolution in the US as long as we have food stamps, section 8, section 42 and the 2018 other poverty programs."
johnfreiburger profile picture
As Will Rogers said " America is the first country where we drive to the poor house." The difference in economic access between Brazilian and US poor is significant, even profound, but directionality and expectations are important. The Brazilian poor see an economy that may work for them. The US poor see an economy that works against them.
We will not have a revolution in the US as long as we have food stamps, section 8, section 42 and the 2018 other poverty programs. What we will get is more and more poverty, dependence and eventually, social and political instability.
Brazil has national development policies. The US has commoditized governance. Brazil has industrial policy, the US has a trade deficit.
Brazil has a future, the US flounders.
User 353732 profile picture
In Brazil the lower middle class is expanding as millions make the ascent from subsistence living to the first rung of middle class material and civic life.

In the US the lower class is expanding as millions descend from the middle class to the lower middle and then tragically descend yet again into the lower class.

As a Nation, Brazil is now upwardly mobile while the US is downwardly mobile. In Brazil personal and property rights are gradually increasing while in the US they are manifestly decreasing.
income inequality isn't the cause of increased poverty, it is a symptom.

the underlying cause is that those bottom 20% or so simply isn't sufficiently productive to justify an equitable standard of living.

for starters, they should have learned math and science. failing that, they should have taken up apprenticeship to become a plumber or mechanic.
PoodleHeadMikey profile picture
Oh right! Just what we need! Plumbers and mechanics who have failed math and science! I can't get anything fixed right now. Hell; I can't what I ordered at the Wendy's drive thru consitently!
This is blatantly idiotic. "Poverty" in Brazil means you don't have electricity, or live in a one room hovel, or both.

In the U.S., the "poverty" stricken have satellite TV, cell phones, and drive SUVs. Just have a drive around the projects to confirm, if you don't believe it.
Tony Petroski profile picture
Groupthink in action (from the article):

"As more and more wealth is transferred into the hands of the top 1% of the U.S. population due to misguided government policies, the unfortunate among the rest of the 99% is further pushed into abject poverty."

Published articles should have a little more polish than the agitprop we can get listening to the chants from the Wall St. vandals.

We all know where this is going. The biggest of the too-big-to-fails is the U.S. federal government. Wipe out all opposition to it, create dependency for ever-increasing numbers of Americans and soon we can re-create the old collectivist systems, National Socialism and International Socialism that proved so effective in the last century.
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