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são paulo - a tale of two cities

the shabby periphery and improve access to basic services, the essential divide between rich and poor will remain. Will continued exclusion and socio-spatial segregation of the poor ultimately result in an un-harmonious city of deep inequalities, with all of the attendant ills? Whether São Paulo, and the wider Brazilian socioeconomic context, is substantively changing is the subject of active debate between economists and social observers in Brazil. Much of the debate turns on the rise of the expanding, highly consumerist middle class and the emerging strength of the Brazilian economy.2 Some academics have noted the rise of what they call the ‘new poverty’, which is more segmented and, perhaps paradoxically, more exclusionary than before, marked now by the rapid rise in informal urban settlements. They are concerned that the shift from a largely authoritarian ‘developmentist’ and undemocratic state towards one that, while more democratic, is less intrusive, will devolve state intervention and welfare systems ever more to the level of municipalities and local governments, and to the quasi-private sector of nongovernmental organizations. The marginalisation debate of the 1980s, which sought to describe the social segregation and deprivation in Brazilian slums, has moved from thinking of marginalization as a ‘myth’ to a ‘reality’, towards a new analysis that today’s poverty is often embedded within structures of social exclusion that severely reduce opportunities for social mobility among the urban poor. At the same time, the reduction of ‘extreme poverty’ and the reduction in the number of economic ‘poor’ in Brazil and São Paulo suggest considerable emerging social mobility.3 This mobility may presage a major shift in terms of improved income distribution and expansion of the middle class. The fact that Brazil is a nation of enormous natural resources, huge freshwater surpluses, newly discovered off-shore oil reserves, the fastest-growing car market in the world and high levels of foreign investment bodes well for continued economic prosperity and the advancement of the poor. The country’s successive commodity booms, based on precious metals in the 17th century, sugar in the 18th century and coffee in the 19th century, have enabled Brazil to become the world’s largest

exporter of coffee, sugar, chicken, orange juice and beef; the country also exports a high volume of soya, as well as iron ore and other ores and metals.4 Inevitably, the findings of this publication raise as many questions as they answer. The titles of the chapters in this book should all be posed as questions, because the structural division that affected so many aspects of São Paulo’s past appears to be changing. This is the first book in an ongoing analysis of intra-city data developed by the Monitoring and Research Division of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHABITAT), headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. Chapters one, two and three describe the context of São Paulo, reviewing the scope and trends of poverty in the city and the process of social exclusion that emerged out of São Paulo’s extraordinary story of rapid urbanization and growth. Chapter four explores in more statistical detail, with extensive use of recent data, different social sectors and the progress made in relation to improving living conditions and reducing exclusion in recent

...the rise of the expanding, highly consumerist middle class and the emerging strength of the Brazilian economy. years. UN-HABITAT data based on the Living Conditions Survey by SEADE/UN-HABITAT in 2006 and findings of the UN-HABITAT Policy Analysis on the Inclusive City from São Paulo in 2009 are key sources, and are augmented by data from other sources. Some sectors are discussed in relation to different Millennium Development Goals and Targets. Examining the gains achieved in recent years in some sectors does not suggest grounds for complacency at all but does raise serious questions, both concerning the measurement of inequality (whether income measurement is sufficient to capture people’s quality of life above the consumption measurement) and the structural transformation that these changes imply. The findings discussed here in relation to inequalities and the gap between

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Profile for UN-Habitat

Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

Profile for unhabitat
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