There is a general understanding that since the start of the millennium, Brazilians are living longer and earning more. However, in a country so large and diverse, it is important to know exactly where these wealth gains have occurred, and whether this more prosperous Brazil is, in fact, being enjoyed across the entire nation. With that in mind, we at The Brazilian Report have taken data on life expectancy and GDP from all 27 states since 2000, to paint a clear picture of how far Brazil has come and where it stands today.

The interactive balloon chart below uses four variables, with each state represented by its own blob, proportional in size to its population and color-coded by region. Average life expectancy is shown on the x-axis, while the vertical axis represents GDP per capita of each state. As the animation is played, we see the progression of these variables between 2000 and 2016. (to animate the chart, click play.)

The inspiration for this chart comes from the late Swedish statistician Hans Rosling, who was famous for his groundbreaking visual representations of cold figures. With his goal to “make data dance,” Dr. Rosling presented statistics with the zeal and drama of a sports broadcaster, in innovative and attractive formats, which we have attempted to emulate here.

As unequal as ever

The first thing to notice is that yes, all across the board, Brazilian states have become richer and its populations are living longer. However, we can also see that the disparity between regions has remained largely the same. States from the Southeast and South (represented by the green and purple blobs, respectively) began the millennium higher and to the right, read richer and with a higher life expectancy, with states from the Northeast and North resigned to the bottom left of the chart. Over the course of the century, while all states improved their life expectancies and GDP, the Southeast and South remain far richer and living longer.

São Paulo had a life expectancy 6.1 years longer than Maranhão in 2000, as well as having a GDP five times higher. In 2016, the life expectancy disparity between the two states actually increased to 7.5 years, while the GDP difference decreased to 3.7 times.

Pernambuco’s dramatic wealth gain

While most states around Brazil progressed at similar speeds throughout the 21st century, the northeastern state of Pernambuco has seen the most striking levels of development since 2000. Where once it had the second-lowest life expectancy anywhere in the country (65 in 2000), Pernambuco shot up to 13th place in the longevity rankings, overtaking 13 northern and northeastern states and recording a life expectancy of 73.9 years in 2016—meaning Pernambucanos are living almost nine years longer on average.

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SocietyNov 27, 2018

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BY Marcelo Soares

Marcelo Soares is a Brazilian journalist specializing in data journalism and reader engagement.