Five Million Kids Still Working in Brazil

    
Five Million Kids Still Working in Brazil

    Despite all the efforts by the Brazilian government to end child
    labor, there are still too many
    children working in Brazil,
    according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and
    Statistics. A whole one million of these working kids are not
    going to school. And 300,000 of them are less than 9 years old.

    by:

    Francesco Neves

     

    The new numbers released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), this Friday October 10,
    reveal a country full of contrasts and surprises. A nation in which there are 1 million children between the ages of 5 and 17
    who are working and not going to school. A land where 31.9 percent of the houses have no basic sanitation, but 61.6 percent
    have a telephone. A country in which 1 percent of the richest people make more money than 40 percent of the poorest. The
    numbers show the inequality of income distribution improving, at the same time that unemployment and bad working condition
    present an increase.

    Despite all the efforts by the government to end child labor, there are still too many children working in Brazil,
    according to the annual IBGE’s Pnad (Pesquisa Nacional de Amostra por Domicílios—National Household Survey). Brazil had in
    2002—the year covered by the IBGE study—5.4 million children working. This number represents 12.6 percent of those with
    ages ranging from 5 to 17. From these youngsters, 2.14 million were between the ages of 5 and 14. There are still 300,000
    children between 5 and 9 who work.

    There was a mere 1 percent drop in the number of working children from 2001 to 200s. In 10 years, however, there
    was a considerable decrease in the number of kids at work. In 1992, 19.2 percent of Brazil’s kids were working. That same
    year, 12.1 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 already had a job. According to Ângela Jorge, IBGE’s
    coordinator for work and employment, the improvement is due to the creation of social programs and a better control of the situation
    by the government.

    It’s illegal for a child to work in Brazil until he/she is 18 years old. There is an exception, however, for apprentices
    who might be hired if they are 15 or older. For the most part, children who work in Brazil do it without getting any pay. The
    main occupation is in agriculture. The IBGE numbers point out that 59.7 percent of 5 to 14 year old kids working, have an
    agricultural activity.

    The latest IBGE survey covers 97.9 percent of the Brazilian population. (The country has 177.495.000 people,
    according to the IBGE’s latest estimate.) Brazilians from the rural areas of Rondônia, Acre, Amazonas, Roraima, Pará and Amapá
    weren’t heard, however. Researchers visited 129,705 houses from all the 26 states of Brazil and the Federal District. The study
    was conducted between September 29, 2001 and September 28, 2002.

    Basic Sanitation

    According to the Pnad, 18 percent of houses in Brazil don’t have running water and 31.9 percent don’t have a septic
    tank and are not linked to the public sewer system. If the numbers look bad, they will seem a little better when you know that
    in 1992, 26.4 percent of the houses had no running water and 43.3 percent of them had no sewer.

    As for trash collection, there was a dramatic improvement in a decade. While in 1992 one third of all residences
    didn’t have their trash picked up, this number has fallen to 15.2 percent in 2002. The jump in electricity was even bigger. The
    number of houses without electricity fell from 11.2 percent in 1992 to 3.3 percent, ten years later.

    The most dramatic increase, however, occurred in the number of telephones. In 1992, only 19 percent of Brazilians
    owned a telephone line. Last year, that figure had soared to 61.6 percent. Curiously, 8.8 percent of the residences had only a
    cell phone and no wired phone. The main responsible for this boom was the privatization of telecommunications in Brazil
    which were all in the hands of the government until 1997.

    The presence of computers in Brazil is also growing fast. They appeared for the first time in the IBGE’s survey in
    2001. That year, the study revealed that 12.6 percent of the Brazilian families had a computer at home. In 2002, computers
    could be found in 14.2 percent of the residence. Between 2001 and 2002, the number of home computers grew by 15 percent,
    while there was a 23.5 percent growth in the amount of houses connected to the Internet. In 2002, 10.3 percent of Brazilian
    residences were linked to the Internet.

    Income Gap

    Inequality is still substantial in the country. Forty percent of the Brazilian population with lesser income had an
    average monthly salary of R$ 163 (US$ 54). Those on the top, on the other hand, made in average R$ 6,636 (US$ 2212) a
    month. The IBGE study also showed that more than half (53.5 percent) of Brazilian workers received last year two minimum
    salaries a month. The minimum wage is R$ 240 a month, or around US$ 80. A mere 1.3 percent earned more than 20 minimum salaries.

    The inequality also appears when different regions of the country are compared. While the average wage in the
    Southeast was R$ 713 (US$ 238) in the Northeast workers had to live with an average monthly salary of R$ 303 (US$ 101).

    The average income of Brazilians fell 2.5 percent in 2002. Workers made an average of 636 reais (212 dollars) a
    month in 2002. The previous year the average salary had been R$ 652 (US$ 217). The calculation takes into account the
    inflation for the period. Women continue to receive less than men doing the same job. In 2002, women workers were making
    only 70.2 percent of their male counterparts’ wages. Men were earning in average R$ 661 (US$ 220) while women received
    R$ 419 (US$ 140). In 1992, the situation was even worse, with women workers receiving only 61.6 percent of men’s paychecks.

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