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Podcast May 22, 2019

Explaining Brazil #61: Brazil’s census controversy

This episode, Brazil’s census controversy, is supported by .Futuro | Rio, the B2B conference about technology for decision makers. On June 5, in Rio de Janeiro, 25 speakers from Brazil and abroad will get together to discuss how technology transforms businesses and society. The theme for this year’s edition is “Augmented Humanity.” Find out more.

Carried out every 10 years, the Brazilian census is pivotal for policymaking. It’s how the government decides on anything from school funding, vaccine policies, or electoral districting.

It is also quite the feat to carry out. Just imagine: it takes 230,000 temporary workers, who must visit 70 million households spread around 8 million square kilometers. Such an effort is a multi-billion dollar enterprise—funds the government claims it doesn’t have. So the Economy Minister wants to trim down the questionnaire.

Will this compromise the results?

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On this episode:

  • Sergei Soares holds a Ph.D. in economics, and served as president of Ipea, Brazil’s Institute of Applied Economic Research.
  • Marcelo Soares is a Brazilian data journalist—and a regular contributor to The Brazilian Report.

Background reading:

  • The census allows us to break down the Brazilian population. It also allows us to predict what Brazil’s population will look like in 40 years.
  • A sheer lack of funds could compromise the future of the Brazilian Geography and Statistics Institute (IBGE).
  • Last year, IBGE published its latest agricultural census. Data is collected in the same way the government uses for a traditional population census, with surveyors visiting each property in turn.
  • The city of Jacareacanga is a textbook example of how the census is important for municipalities. Discrepancies in populational data made three-quarters of its population to “disappear”—causing a loss of funds and igniting a legal battle.

Explaining Brazil is made by:

  • Gustavo Ribeiro, editor in chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de São Paulo, Médiapart and Radio France Internationale.
  • Maria Martha Bruno, producer. She is a journalist with 14 years of experience in politics, arts, and breaking news. She has collaborated with Al Jazeera, NBC, and CNN, among others, and worked as an international correspondent in Buenos Aires.
  • Euan Marshall, editing. is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.

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