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Summary of Social Indicators

Extreme poverty affects 13.5 million persons and hits highest level in seven years

Section: Social Statistics | Carmen Nery | Design: Brisa Gil

November 06, 2019 10h00 AM | Last Updated: November 07, 2019 10h00 AM

#PraCegoVer a foto mostra uma rua sem calçamento com esgoto a céu aberto
Number of persons in extreme poverty is equivalent to the populations of Cuba and Portugal - Photo: Rita Martins/IBGE News Agency

In 2018, Brazil had 13.5 million persons with per capita average earnings below R$ 145, or U$S 1.9 per day, according to the criterion adopted by the World Bank to identify extreme poverty conditions. That figure is equivalent to the populations of Bolivia, Belgium, Cuba, Greece and Portugal. Although the percentage has been stable against the 2017 figure, it increased from 5.8%, in 2012, to 6.5% in 2018, a seven-year record.  

These data come from the Summary of Social Indicators (SIS) released today by the IBGE. The manager of the study, André Simões, highlights the necessity of public policies to fight extreme poverty, because it reaches a more vulnerable group and with more reduced conditions to join the labor market.


The Summary of Social Indicators also showed that, although one million persons had left the poverty line – a daily earnings below US$ 5.5, the measure adopted by the World Bank to identify poverty in developing countries such as Brazil – one fourth of the Brazilian population, or 52.5 million persons still lived on less than R$ 420 per capita per month. The index fell from 26.5%, in 2017, to 25.3% in 2018. Nevertheless, the percentage is far from what was reached in 2014, the best year in the series, which recorded 22.8%.

“The highest level of poverty in the series was registered in 2012, 26.5%, followed by a decrease of 4 percentage points in 2014. From 2015 on, with the economic crisis and the reduction of labor market, the percentages of poverty had a little decrease in 2018, a difference that does not characterize a change in trend, according to analyst Pedro Rocha de Moraes.

Poverty reaches mainly the black or brown population, which represents 72.7% of the poor, in absolute figures, or 38.1 million persons. And black or brown women represent the biggest number, 27.2 million persons below poverty line.

In 2018, the reduction of poverty occurred mainly in the Southeast, which had a decrease by 714 thousand persons in that condition, mainly in the state of São Paulo (623 thousand). Almost half (47%) of the Brazilians below poverty line in 2018 were in the Northeast region. Maranhão was the state with the biggest percentage of persons with earnings below the poverty line (53.0%). Santa Catarina, accounting for the smallest inequality figures, had the smallest percentage of poor people. All the states in the North and Northeast Region recorded poverty indicators above the national average.