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By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica) has released the findings from its 2010 census which state that 22.03 percent of the 6,323,037 residents of Rio de Janeiro live in favelas, or ‘substandard’ and irregular housing communities.

Rocinha is identified as Rio's largest favela according to the census, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News.
Rocinha is identified as Rio's largest favela according to the census, photo by Alicia Nijdam/Flickr Creative Commons License.

According to the new report, there are 1,393,314 people in 763 favelas in Rio, ahead of Sao Paulo, whose population in favelas is listed at 1,280,400.

Perhaps the most striking insight when compared with 2000 Census figures from the IBGE (when there were 1,092,283 residents of favelas in Rio, or 18.65 percent of the inhabitants), representing a growth of favela population of 27.65 percent in ten years.

That is in stark contrast to the growth of population in the rest of the city, which has increased only 3.4 percent, from 4,765,621 to 4,929,723 in ten years, eight times slower.

The new report also shows that Rocinha remains the largest favela community in Rio, containing 69,161 residents in 2010, according to IBGE’s census.

These statistics, however, differ greatly from other published figures from international media sources, as well as the Rocinha community itself which has ranged from 100,000 to 150,000, and even 300,000 in some cases.

According to the institute, this IBGE survey used different methodologies from those of previous censuses, such as satellite images and therefor comparisons between 2000 and 2010 may differ.

Also notable for the total Rio statistics is the IBGE’s findings do not include those residing in favelas in the outer regions of the city, such as Vila do João, Maré, Vila Kennedy or Cidade de Deus which would significantly increase the overall population numbers.

Read more (in Portuguese).

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24 COMMENTS

  1. Brazil is now the 6th largest economy in the world, having just overtaken the UK in terms of GDP. Minimum wage is now a legislated R$545 per month to be paid thirteen times a year which is set to rise to R$800 by 2015. The Brazilian middle class has swelled by 29 million souls. Twenty million have been elevated above the poverty line. Yet the favela population in Rio increased by 27.5% in the last ten years. So, my question is: who is lying? I cannot believe that all is well in Brazil when so many people live in sub-standard housing. Surely the urban poor are the barometer for the economic wellness of the nation as a whole. In a country that has one of the highest Gini-coefficients in the world, standing at 54 as determined by The World Bank in 2009, these amazing statistics and feats must be tempered with a massive dose of sobering realities. Brazil honestly does not have the right to brag when 22% of the population in a city such as Rio live in slums.

  2. I can explain the apparent inconsistency. While favelas originally came on the scene as a provisional housing solution for the very poor, today the presence of favela-type communities is not equivalent to poverty. “Favela” does not (necessarily) equal slum. Many of the poor who live in favelas have improved their economic position but choose to reinvest their money back into their residences rather than moving — this is why you see homes in favelas with tiled floors, fully equipped kitchens, and other amenities. At the same time, while people generally have more buying power, housing inflation has far out-paced growth in incomes, so housing as a commodity is even more expensive in real terms. There are other barriers to favela dwellers buying formal housing units other than wealth — these have to do with participation in the banking system, access to credit, and red tape. You’re right that the Gini coefficient in Brazil is high, but it’s coming down.

  3. […] more than 20 per cent of Rio’s total population live in one of the 950+ Favelas skirting the city centre. And while stigma remains, many middle […]

  4. […] forces is a different question—and the answer is “not very” if you happen to be among the nearly 1.4 million people living in one of Rio’s 763 favela […]

  5. […] not an expert just because I walked by a few while sightseeing while in Rio. I refer you instead to read more about favela life if you are […]

  6. […] Some might see in this a sign of social mobility in Brazil, but the fact remains that favelas continue to grow, reflecting ongoing and wide socioeconomic disparities in […]

  7. Rio is the 6th biggest place in the world and people that we’re living in the favela rochinha is very sorry,because they had moved from other places that was a place were poverty and people were very poor in the rochinha.the people in the city is very happy because they have a lot of stuff like: school, medical, doctors, and lots of other thing.the favela rocinha has no cars, no powers and no roads only for the government to go through the other side of the rocinha.

  8. […] Rio de Janeiro, about 22 percent of the population resides in favelas. An important part of the city’s Morar Carioca favela […]

  9. […] the Guanabara Bay—oftentimes for business, but many times merely to feed their own family. One in every five cariocas lives in a favela, well below the poverty line with little more than a tin roof and a […]

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