How the Brazilian population will change this century

. Jun 18, 2019
brazilian population changes

Every two years, the UN publishes its World Population Prospects, analyzing population trends in 235 countries and regions. The data is based on national censuses, sample surveys, and historical patterns. According to its latest document, the Brazilian population is set to peak in 2045, with 229 million residents (from today’s 211 million). After that point, the rapidly-aging country will become less and less populated.

Brazil has just been overtaken by Pakistan as the world’s fifth-largest population, and is expected to drop out of the top 10 by 2100, when countries such as Egypt, Angola, Ethiopia, and Tanzania will have larger populations.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These are, of course, projections, and could change along the way thanks to technological advances, or different political and social climates, all of which can dramatically alter how a population evolves. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the 2019 UN World Population Prospects confirms a trend we have already discussed on </span><b>The Brazilian Report</b><span style="font-weight: 400;">: </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brazil&#8217;s rapid aging process</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Between 2045 and 2100, the Brazilian population is set to lose about 50 million people—shrinking from 229 million to just 180.7 million (that is, 30 million fewer Brazilians than today).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If 50 years ago the Brazilian population grew at a rate of nearly three percent, much faster than the rest of the world, the curve is slowing down fast. In 2005, Brazil&#8217;s population growth rate was on a par with the rest of South America, as well as with the world average, only to drop at a faster pace.</span></p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/429247"></div> <p><script src=""></script></p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/429329"></div> <p><script src=""></script></p> <h2>A population of elderly citizens</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meanwhile, Brazil&#8217;s elderly will become more and more present. If 14 percent of Brazil&#8217;s population next year will be made up of people aged 60 years old or more, that rate will jump to 40 percent in 80 years. And the age group where growth is faster is among those of at least 80 years old.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That is the result of a trend that has been observed worldwide—a lowering birth rate, coupled with a mounting life expectancy. But in the Brazilian case, the aging of the population is quicker—and more profound than in other countries.</span></p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/429309"></div> <p><script src=""></script></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the 1960s, each couple had, on average, 6.3 children—something that seems nothing short of absurd by today’s standards. By 2012, that average was down to 1.7. To keep Brazil’s current number of active workers intact, the number of children per couple would need to increase to 2.1 children.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">By 2080, Brazil is set to have more people of at least 80 years old than youngsters of 14 or less. The median age in Brazil (that is, an age that divides the population into two parts of equal size, where as many persons with ages above the median as there are with ages below the median) will jump from 33.5 years old—which is already higher than the world combined—to 51.4 years old in 2100, that is, 10 years more than the world median.</span></p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/429341"></div> <p><script src=""></script></p> <h2>Challenges for Brazil</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the U.S. National Institute on Aging, Brazil’s population is aging at a rate 6 times faster than that of France. In about 20 years, Brazilians over 65 will represent 14 percent of the population. In 2010, there were 10 active workers for each senior citizen. But projections by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics show that in 2060, there will be only two active workers for each senior citizen.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And that’s a problem because of <a href="">Brazil’s pension system</a>. Decades ago, we opted for a “pay as you go&#8221; model, where active workers would finance the older population’s retirement pensions. In a country with a large young population, it&#8217;s a manageable system. However, it doesn’t work with an overwhelmingly older population.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Economy Minister Paulo Guedes believes the problem can be solved by migrating the current model to a capitalization one—where workers are responsible for their own savings. That solution, however, creates other issues. Chile, where the capitalization system was implemented during the regime of dictator Augusto Pinochet, is an example. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The <a href="">Chilean pensions model</a> has been the subject of huge popular dissatisfaction in recent years, with these individual savings accounts not producing returns sizeable enough for retired people to live on. The average pensioner in Chile is today receiving less than minimum wage.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And the pension system is far from the only problem in sight. “The Brazilian healthcare system was structured before the demographic change,” Dr. Luiz Roberto Ramos, Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Federal University of the State of São Paulo, <a href="">told reporter Edmund Ruge</a>.  “Where you once saw hospital waiting rooms full of mothers and children, they are now filled with senior citizens.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Brazilian Congress is currently debating a reform to the country&#8217;s pension system—and we don&#8217;t know yet what is going to come of it. The only certainty right now is that another reform might be in order in just a few years.

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