"The statistics of social progress in Brazil are remarkable. The number of people living in poverty has fallen by 20m under Lula, from 49.5m (or 28.5% of the total) in 2003 to 29m (16% of the total) in 2008, according to calculations by Marcelo Neri, a social-policy expert at the Fundaçao Getulio Vargas, a university. Although the world recession and its brief impact in Brazil temporarily halted the progress, it did not reverse it. Using different criteria, Ricardo Paes de Barros of the Institute for Applied Economic Research, a government-linked body, paints a similar picture. He finds that the number of Brazilians too poor to feed themselves properly has fallen from 17% of the population in 2003 to 8.8% in 2008.Economist, "In Lula's footstep", 1 juli
Levelling the playing field
At the same time Brazil’s notoriously unequal distribution of income is becoming a bit less so. The Gini coefficient, a standard statistical measure of inequality, has fallen steadily since 2001 (though it remains very high by international standards). Over that period the income of the poorest 10% of the population has grown at 8% a year, while that of the richest tenth has grown at only 1.5% a year, according to Mr Paes de Barros.
In various ways Brazil is starting to become a more homogeneous society. Regional inequality has been diminishing, too: average income in the poor north-east has been growing faster than the national average. A majority of Brazilians (some 52%, up from 44% in 2002) now belong to what marketers call social class C, or the lower-middle class, meaning that they have a monthly household income of between 1,064 and 4,561 reais.
This progress stems from a mixture of faster economic growth and government policies. Though there is debate about the details, around half of the fall in poverty comes from higher income from employment. Better social policy accounts for a big share of the fall in inequality—or at least of the narrowing of the bottom of the pyramid. Bolsa Família has been particularly effective in helping the poorest.
How much of the credit does Lula deserve for all this? His government turned Bolsa Família from a small-scale experiment into the world’s biggest conditional cash-transfer programme. He also raised the minimum wage by two-and-a-half times since 2003, taking its purchasing power to its highest level since 1979. This has not destroyed jobs: some 13m new jobs in the formal (ie, legally registered) economy have been created since 2003. Lula is also proud of a government programme under which 12m people in rural areas have gained access to electricity, and another programme that provides subsidised housing for the poor. Above all, the polls suggest, he has given poorer Brazilians a new sense both of self-esteem and that their government is not just for the rich."
Jfr 11 februari, "Liberalism i Brasilien"
Jfr om partisan effects, "Presidentval och ekonomisk utveckling i USA", 15 juli 2008.
Jfr 27 april, "Indiens ekonomiska politik: pro-poor growth?"
UPPDATERING 9 augusti
Economist fortsätter att skriva om framsteg i Brasilien. Senast i en briefing om landets program, Bolsa Família, som ger familjer bidrag avhängiga att man har kvar barnen i skolan och går till hälsokontroller. Världsbanken kallar, enligt artikeln, programmet "a model of effective social policy".
Economist, "How to get children out of jobs and into school", 31 juli
Jordreform för ökad jämlikhet (från extremt ojämlik nivå) på gång i Colombia:
"The government of Juan Manuel Santos, who took over from Álvaro Uribe as president last month, wants to restore this land. Officials are careful to avoid calling the new effort a land reform, a policy that failed in the past. But if it achieves even half of what it sets out to, it will amount to a revolution in rural Colombia.Economist, "This land is our land", 18 september 2010
Extremely unequal land ownership is both a cause and a consequence of the political conflicts that have plagued Colombia for decades. In 1954 fewer than 24,000 people (or 3% of landowners) held 55% of all farmland; by 2005, 16,350 landowners (0.4% of the total) held 62.6% of the land, whereas about 3.3m smallholders owned just 8.8%, according to official figures. Drug traffickers and paramilitaries (often the same people) snatched huge tracts of rural land in the 1980s and 1990s to launder their profits in what amounted to a violent and illegal agrarian 'counter-reform'."
UPPD. 18 mars 2011
Joe Leahy har en helsida i FT i onsdags om upptäckter av olja i Brasilien och farhågor att landet ska drabbas av "Dutch disease" eller en "resource curse". Han skriver att regeringen etablerat en sovereign wealth fund att ta hand om oljepengarna, och som ska investera i långsiktigt bra saker som infrastruktur och utbildning.
Dilma Rouseff har nyligen genomfört en lag som garanterar facklig representation i styrelserna för statsägda företag.
Joe Leahy, "Platform for growth", Financial Times 16 mars 2011
Uppdatering 21 juli 2011
Joe Leahy har ännu en gång en helsida i FT om Brasilien; denna gång är fokus problem i lulismen. De samhällsekonomiska problem som Leahy pekar på är att Brasiliens tillväxt de senaste åren i hög grad främjats av en global råvaruboom, (för Brasilien relevant är att priserna på t ex soja och järnmalm ökat kraftigt) och att trots denna gynnsamma situation sparande och investeringar ligger på en för låg nivå. En ekonom på Capital Economics i London säger: "The longer it continues to grow like this, the harder the adjustment will be as and when it does come - and it inevitably will at some point. So we are now kind of in the realm of soft versus hard landing." Inflationstakten är tämligen hög på 6,8 procent och skuldsättningen är också hög, vilket hänger ihop med konsumtionsboomen.
Leahy, "Credit to redeem", FT 13 juli