Brazil Demography and Economic Geography
Demography and economic geography. – State of South America. At the 2010 census, the population was 190,755,799 residents, which rose to 202,033,670 in 2014, according to an estimate by UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs). The once very high rate of population growth has slowed down and the Brazil is now in a phase of human development in the process of consolidation, as shown by the birth and death rates (15 ‰ and 6 ‰ respectively in 2013), the consequent modest natural increase (equal to 0.8% per year) and clearly below the Latin American average, the data of the average life expectancy at birth (78 years for the female component and 71 for the male in 2013). Infant mortality has also decreased in the last ten years, going from 30 ‰ to the current 12.3 ‰. This demographic trend has been reflecting on the composition by age of the population, which has seen an increasingly marked shrinkage of the younger classes, an expansion of the intermediate age groups and a general aging of the population. If this current prevalence of the young over the elderly plays a role in favor of the labor market, the situation will change in a decade or so as the workforce shrinks and the elderly become a substantial part of the population.
Thanks to a well-paid pension system and numerous other social programs launched, many elderly people have emerged from poverty. On the contrary, funding for the improvement of education has been limited, which has led to an impoverishment of human capital from which the economic system suffers, and funding for health care. This situation is reflected, in particular, in hospital services: to remedy the lack of qualified personnel, the government has decided to encourage the immigration of doctors from abroad. Public expenditure on education and health is, respectively, 5.8% (2010) and 9.7% of GDP (2013).
Despite its economic successes, the country still suffers from a profound inequality in the distribution of wealth, corruption rooted in the political fabric, serious problems of security and public order, as well as a chronic lack of infrastructure and too weak welfare. For this reason, the enthusiasm that drove the years of the Brazilian miracle has cooled, while widespread social discontent has prevailed, especially on the part of the middle class which, in addition to development and progress, demands more rights, equality and reforms. Today’s Brazil is therefore a country in transition, poised between a society that seeks to converge towards the Western-style development model, resulting from the economic boom, and the need to maintain its international credibility high. The difficulties of organizing the World Cup in 2014 and protests at major events, such as the Rio + 20 Conference in 2012, the 2014 World Cup itself and the Olympic Games scheduled in Rio de Janeiro for 2016, reveal how the country, despite the ambitions of economic and political independence, finds it difficult to detach itself from the legacy of the past with its many structural problems. The serious protests, which preceded and accompanied these events, aim to denounce corruption and waste in infrastructure investments; the long war to pacify the favelas waged in Rio de Janeiro by the military police appeared only as a defense of the interests of real estate speculators. the 2014 World Cup itself and the Olympic Games scheduled in Rio de Janeiro for 2016 reveal how the country, despite its ambitions of economic and political independence, finds it difficult to detach itself from the legacy of the past with its many structural criticalities. The serious protests, which preceded and accompanied these events, aim to denounce corruption and waste in infrastructure investments; the long war to pacify the favelas waged in Rio de Janeiro by the military police appeared only as a defense of the interests of real estate speculators. The serious protests, which preceded and accompanied these events, aim to denounce corruption and waste in infrastructure investments; the long war to pacify the favelas waged in Rio de Janeiro by the military police appeared only as a defense of the interests of real estate speculators.
Economic conditions. – Over the last decade, the Italian economy has recorded a high rate of growth, with a sharp slowdown in 2008-09, due to the repercussions of the global financial crisis. 2010 was marked by a new recovery, but the persistence of the negative world situation, with a consequent reduction in demand, led to a new cooling of development. The transition from an average annual growth rate of around 4% in the 2005-10 period to a value of less than 1% in 2012, temporarily rising to 1.9% in the following year and falling again in 2014, has alienated many investors. international. The country thus lost several points both in the global competitiveness index (57th position in 2014) and in the global innovation index (61st position), drawn up by the World economic forum, performance is also attributable to increasingly difficult access to finance, an economy still fairly closed to foreign competition, serious infrastructure shortcomings, which make transport expensive and slow, as well as a complicated and inefficient bureaucracy. In essence, the limits of an economy that has experienced constant growth, but not at the same level as other emerging nations, are emerging. An effect determined by political choices, starting with the higher level of wages compared to the other countries that make up the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa ; v.), which negatively affected the investments of large multinationals in search of the lowest labor cost in the world.
Despite the difficult macroeconomic situation, the prospects for the country remain positive, as the Brazil can count on a large market (in recent years millions of Brazilians have entered the middle class and millions of families have benefited from the numerous social programs), on very low levels of unemployment (5.5% in 2014), almost full employment, especially in urban areas, on well-developed sectors of activity with high added value and, above all, on an extraordinary abundance of raw materials (resources mining, agricultural and livestock products).
The country remains one of the major producers and exporters of agricultural commodities, in particular soy, coffee, sugar cane, citrus fruits, cocoa, cotton; corn, rice, beans, cassava are used for internal needs. To increase agricultural yields, extensive use of biotechnology is made. The primary sector contributes 5.5% to the formation of GDP (2013), employs 15.7% (2011) of the workforce and forms over a third of exports.
Industry, in which 13.3% of the active population is employed today and which contributes over 26% to GDP, is much more diversified than in the past and new high-level technology parks have been opened in many metropolises. Among the most established sectors, aeronautics continues to play a leading role (the Embraer company is the fourth in the world for aircraft production), followed by the automotive sector, oil refining and the chemical sector.
From an energy point of view, Brazil is among the first countries in the world for energy consumption and national production is so high (530,607 million kWh in 2011) as to ensure, if not self-sufficiency, a good contribution to domestic demand. Overall, renewable energies satisfy 45% of Brazilian energy consumption: the country is now the second largest producer of hydroelectric energy in the world after China, a record that comes largely from the large Itaipú power plant (shared with Paraguay). Of particular importance is the production of bioethanol. The government of Brasilia is aiming at relaunching renewable energy plans that are attracting new investments from all over the world.
Brazil is a strong oil producer (109.9 million t in 2013), but does not yet have a sufficient number of refining plants. The government has set itself the goal of becoming the fourth largest exporter of hydrocarbons in the world by 2035, thanks to the exploitation of the Libra offshore field (1500 km 2surface area), discovered in 2010, located 230 km off the coast of the State of Rio de Janeiro. According to the Brazilian Oil Agency, the field hides between 8 and 12 billion barrels of crude oil, numbers that, if confirmed, would double the country’s known reserves. As for natural gas, Brazil produces 21.3 billion m3 (2013), an important figure, but not sufficient to cover the internal needs, for which the country is forced to import natural gas from Bolivia.
From the point of view of trading partners, Asia has recently become the region of greatest outlet for Brazilian trade: 20% of exports are directed there and a large part of imports come from them. If, on the other hand, individual countries are considered, the main Brazilian trading partners are China, the United States and Argentina. For Brazil 2014, please check thesciencetutor.org.
Economic and financial policy. – In the years preceding the global financial crisis, the Bank put in place macroeconomic consolidation interventions based on fiscal rigor, implemented an inflation targeting monetary policy to control inflationary pressure and pursued adherence to a floating regime of the real. Such measures have successfully contributed to a period of inclusive growth of reducing poverty and inequalities in income distribution. Since 2010, thanks to the accumulated internal resources and the increased reserves of foreign currency, the country has been able to cope with the dramatic contraction in foreign prices and the tightening of financial markets with counter-cyclical economic policies of increasing public spending and lowering interest rates. interest. In particular, in 2011 the Brazilian authorities introduced tools to support consumption, mostly in the form of tax cuts, and the promotion of the construction sector, which were followed, in the two-year period 2012-13, various incentives for companies in the manufacturing sector, subsequently extended to the service sector. These interventions, accompanied by the rapid expansion of the amount of credit disbursements by public commercial banks, made it possible to reduce labor and energy costs, keep the general level of prices stable, guaranteeing the necessary conditions for contained growth. fueled by domestic demand.
During 2012, the government promoted the construction of infrastructures by favoring the massive participation of private investors, by granting concessions for the development and management of roads, ports and airports, and by approving forms of mixed public-private participation in the railway sector. In order to increase investment, the Brazilian authorities have facilitated the entry of foreign capital, particularly in the form of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Exchange rate policy was conducted under the banner of a floating regime and central bank interventions were sporadic and symmetrical, aimed at moderating volatility rather than stabilizing the exchange rate. The priorities of Brazilian monetary policy – the reduction of inflation and the control of inflationary expectations – forced the authorities in 2013 to a drastic reversal of approach with the increase in interest rates. Nonetheless, price growth remained above the target rate of 4.5%. The gradual deterioration of public finances, accompanied by a loss of credibility of the country in conjunction with the presidential elections of 2014, defined the main constraints placed on the economic maneuver of the new president Dilma Rousseff, who however intends to maintain measures to support domestic consumption and to investments.