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cities & citizens series - bridging the urban divide

For many, the worst aspects of living in the inner-city corticos are the congestion, frequent damp and high rents. Image: Andersson Barbosa

of 17 per cent occurring in Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Area (from 40 per cent to 23 per cent between 2003 and 2008). In the poorer north, Recife and Salvador Metropolitan Areas showed declines of 12 and 15 per cent respectively, but both continue to have very high levels of urban poverty.20 During the same period (2002 to 2008), the reduction in the number of people in absolute poverty has also been remarkable throughout

...suggests the numbers of poor and absolute poor people will continue to decline in the coming years. Brazil’s six metropolitan regions. Percentages of absolute poor have halved, from 12.7 per cent of the combined population of all six metropolitan regions to 6.6 per cent. Data suggests the numbers of poor and absolute poor people will continue to decline in the coming years. The three main factors generally attributed to these positive changes are Brazil’s stronger economy (with controlled inflation); its successive increase of the minimum wage (above inflation), which puts more money into the pockets of the poor; and the effectiveness of government-driven pro-poor cash transfer mechanisms.

The human development test Brazil’s progress in improving living conditions and welfare benefits over the last three de-

cades deserves some comment. The country’s Human Development Index (HDI), a composite measurement developed by the United Nations Development Programme,21 has improved significantly from 1975, when it scored 0.649 points (on a scale of 0 to 1), to 2005 when it attained 0.80 and was placed at the bottom of the High Human Development category, ranking 70th in the world HDI hierarchy. Brazil’s advances are by no means unique in a context of rising global HDI scores, but they mark positive changes nonetheless. The expressed aim of the HDI is to transcend a purely income-based analysis of poverty to provide a more integrated account of development. The UN also uses another index called the Human Poverty Index (HPI-1). This measure is used for developing countries only and focuses on the proportion of people below a certain thresholds for different indicators, using the same dimensions of human development as the Human Development Index (i.e., living a long and healthy life, and having access to education and a decent standard of living).22 By looking beyond income deprivation, the HPI-1 represents a multi-dimensional alternative to the US$1 a day (purchasing power parity, or PPP) poverty measure. By this calculation, Brazil ranks 23rd amongst 108 developing countries, with six Latin American countries scoring higher. However, when per capita income levels are withdrawn from the HPI-1 calculation, Brazil performs far better in terms of impacting human development as opposed to impacting income poverty. This is an important distinction that relates directly to people’s experience of their quality of life, which will be

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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