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IBGE launches methodological study on population change and population projections (1)

Section: IBGE

April 15, 2015 11h02 AM | Last Updated: February 02, 2018 12h25 PM



IBGE releases today, April 15, 2015, on its web portal the publication 'Population Change in Brazil in the Beginning of the 21st Century: Subsidies on population projections for Brazil and Federation Units'. This work puts together analytical texts on the changes experienced by the Brazilian population, which underpinned the development of the Population Projections for Brazil and Federation Units 2000-2060. The complete publication can be accessed on page

The publication includes reflections in articles written by experts of the Coordination of Population of IBGE on the main aspects of the Brazilian demographic transition. Hypotheses about the behavior of fertility, mortality and internal and international migrations are presented, as well as a discussion about data sources used in the population analyses and about the implications of population changes to Brazilian society.

The analyses were key to carry out the population projections ( and contribute to the understanding of the challenges that will be faced by Brazilian society in the next decades, as well as of the opportunities that will arise as a result of the population changes. In 2013, IBGE disseminated for the first time the population projection for the Federation Units based on the population components method. This methodology incorporates the transformations in the components of the population growth into the population dynamics, thus improving the population projections, essential for planning and monitoring public policies.

The study consists of the following articles: 'Data sources of fertility in Brazil: characteristics, advantages and limitations'; 'Projection of fertility patterns and levels in Brazil'; 'Information sources for the study of mortality'; 'Tendency of mortality patterns and levels and their regional differences - 2000-2030. Brazil, Major Regions and Federation Units'; 'Information sources for the studies on migration'; 'Internal migration in the first decade of the 21st century: Subsidies on the projections'; 'Past, present and future of international migrations in Brazil' and 'Transition of the age structure in Brazil: opportunities and challenges for the society in the next decades'.

Demographic transition accelerates in Brazil from mid-1900 onwards

The process of demographic transition or vital transition is one of the major transformations faced by modern societies. The transition is characterized by a change from a regime of high mortality and fertility/birth rates to another regime, in which both rates stand at relatively lower levels. Besides changing the growth rates of the population, the demographic transition changes the age structure, when it decreases the proportion of children at the same time as it increases the percentage of elderly persons in the population. From the 18th century onwards, the industrial revolution and the modernization of the European societies, as well as the scientific improvements and the gains of life quality in general, start the transition process. The transition takes place later in Latin America, except for Uruguay and Argentina, which started it in the beginning of the 20th century. Its effects began to be remarkably noticed in Brazil in the middle of the last century, taking place so quickly, so much that the populations suddenly changed in short periods of time. This behavior is causing significant changes in the age structure of the population, influencing individuals, families and society as a whole.

Although widespread in Brazil, the population changes do not happen at the time in all the regions, thus requiring different ways of looking amidst a situation of territorial and social inequalities.

Demographic transition promotes changes in age groups

The reduction of births causes a smaller number of children to enter in the educational system, which generates an opportunity to invest more in the quality of the education provided to those children rather than in the supply of seats. In the Brazilian case, the decreasing number of children contributed to improve the school coverage.

As a reflection of the falling fertility in the past, the young population, between 15 and 29 years, registers a continuous decrease in its relative participation in the Brazilian population. Specific public policies for this population stratum are concerned about the difficulties in the transition from childhood and youth to the adult life. The demographic transition may contribute to the access to a higher education of quality by the young population, as well as to the transition from the educational system to the labor market, given the reduction of youngsters looking for a job.

The Brazilian population aged between 30 and 59 years grows, both in the relative participation and in absolute numbers. The growth of that age group is key to the discussion on the demographic dividend, as far as that population, whether incorporated in the qualified labor market, may favor the increase of the labor productivity and of the economic development.

On the other hand, the elderly is the population segment that mostly increases in the Brazilian population. The fast aging of the population causes profound consequences, bringing important challenges to society. That process should not be considered a problem indeed, yet requiring attention to the discussion on the way to deal with the phenomenon.

In this context, the conditions required to maintain the life quality of elderly persons are increasingly under concern, as well as the public policies and specific care and protection actions for elderly persons and the association between aging and public policies of social security (assistance, social security and health).




Administrative records become more reliable sources of information

The quality of birth and death records advanced the most in Brazil. Nonetheless, problems related to the coverage and quality of information still persist, especially in the North and Northeast Regions. We live in a transition period as to the population estimates, changing from a period of discredit in relation to administrative records to a time when those records may become the main source of information, a desired goal already in place in developed countries.

Despite the improved coverage of records from vital statistics, indirect techniques to estimate the population parameters still need to be used.

Although little used in Brazil, administrative records are also important sources to monitor migratory movements, both internal and international. It should be highlighted that they only cover the documented portion of foreign population or that population in the formal labor market, in the case of nationals. In Brazil, they are available, to a larger extent, for immigration flows.

More educated, women tend to have children later

From a fertility level considered 'natural' and a high number of births, fertility fell to extremely low levels, many times below the number that at least maintains the population with the same size in the long term. Along that process, the occurrence of births by mother age changed from a pattern that encompassed all the fertile period (15 to 49 years) to a pattern involving specific periods of the female reproductive cycle, more and more concentrated around some ages (20 to 29 years). The analyses pointed out that the higher the schooling level of women, the concentration of births tends to happen in the oldest ages of the reproductive period. Such behavior was taken into account in the projection of the Federation Units, the only difference among them being the time in which this phenomenon will take place. The differences among them will decrease, following the tendency noticed in the last decade. However, it is expected that the full convergence of fertility in the Federation Units will not be achieved even in 2030, due to the cultural and, especially, socioeconomic inequalities that still persist among different Brazilian regions and probably will not be solved in little more than two decades.

Main causes of mortality change in last decades

In the process of demographic transition, Brazil virtually halved its mortality rate in only 20 years - from 20.0% in 1940 to 12.6% in 1960 -, whereas developed countries took about 100 years to achieve this goal. The set of death causes comprised of parasitic, respiratory and infectious diseases gradually began to lose importance against another set comprised of diseases related to the degeneration of the organism through aging, like cancer and cardiorespiratory diseases, among others. On the other hand, deaths associated with external and violent causes - which include homicides, suicides, traffic accidents, drowning, accidental falls, etc.) stood out in mid-1980s onwards, negatively influencing the age structure of the mortality rates, especially of male young adults.

Children under 1 year of life was a group highly benefitted from the decreasing mortality. For each thousand of children born alive, 146 did not complete the first year of life in 1940. In 2015, this figure dropped to 14 per each thousand live births.

Internal migration drops and international migration balance becomes positive

The decreasing volume of internal migrants in the first decade of the 21st century may be associated with the productive restructuring process started in Brazil in the 1980s. This process has been contributing to less intense internal migrations, both in terms of flows and volume. Flows of migrants tend to continue in traditional areas of absorption and expulsion of migrants, especially between the Northeast and Southeast Regions, though with reduced volume.

Along its history, Brazil has been predominantly a receiving country of international migrants. Nevertheless, evidences suggest that Brazil experienced for the first time a loss of population to the rest of the world in the last decades of the 20th century onwards. The results of the 2010 Census show that this situation may be reversing again since the 2000 decade. Some analyses show that the international migration balance of Brazil underwent a new reversion, becoming positive in the 2000 decade. This may be the result both of the reduction of the migration of individuals outwards and of the increase of the international immigrants. The trends above described point to a new level of participation of Brazil in the international migration system, highlighted by the returning Brazilians who once lived abroad.

Demographic dividend may favor development and will peak between 2022 and 2023

The demographic transition changes the age structure of the population, considerably impacting society. One of the main phenomena resulting from this process is called demographic dividend. The demographic dividend or bonus is represented by the period in which the proportion of potentially active persons is comparatively higher than the theoretically dependent age groups. In other words, a high proportion of adults in the population in relation to the participation of children and elderly persons. In theory, the higher proportion of persons at working age would favor the economic development, since the prevalence of persons producing more than consuming, compared with those whose consumption usually surpasses the productive capacity, would provide more reserves and increasing resources per individual. In Brazil, this phenomenon will hit its peak between 2022 and 2023, by when the dependency ratios will grow again and the window of demographic opportunities will begin to be closed.

It should be highlighted that each one of the 27 Federation Units shows demographic, social and economic differences, making their mortality and fertility levels and patterns different, as well as determining a particular role in the migration flows in Brazil. Thereby, the age structures of each Federation Unit in a particular year highlight the time in which it is found in the demographic transition process, as well as the way how it is related to other FUs, sending or losing population. The historic inequalities reflected in regional disparities result in completely different demographic processes among the Brazilian regions. Regardless of fulfilling or not the convergence hypotheses in each one of the demographic components, a number of regional peculiarities among the populations take place.

However, the demographic dividend is not only automatically determined by the demographic conditions. Eventual benefits require certain conditions of educational quality and coverage, as well as adequate labor policies, which allow to satisfactorily incorporate the population in the labor market and thus create the real economic surplus.