By Lucy Jordan, Senior Contributing Reporter

BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL – For the first time, more than half of Brazil’s population is categorized as middle class, according to Voices of the Middle Class, a study undertaken by the Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos (Strategic Affairs Secretariat, SAE). The report was released Thursday (September 20th) by The Minister of SAE, Moreira Franco.

The Minister of Strategic Affairs Secretariat, Moreira Franco, said that the growing middle class is crucial to boosting economic growth, photo by Elza Fiúza/ABr.

The SAE defines those in the middle class as people who live in households with a per capita monthly income of between R$291 (US$145) and R$1,019 (US$500) and have a low probability of becoming poor in the near future.

Over the past ten years, 35 million people joined the middle class in Brazil, which in 2002 represented 38 percent of the population of the country. Today, 104 million Brazilians, or 53 percent of the population, are in the middle class.

According to the study, the expansion of this group resulted from countrywide economic growth and reduced inequality. If these trends are maintained, an estimated 57 percent of the population will be in the middle class by 2022.

Brazil has in the past suffered from high levels of income inequality – its executives boast the highest pay in the world – but successive governments have, over the past decade, sought to remedy this.

The Bolsa Família program provides direct financial support to Brazil’s poorest families in return for ensuring that their children are vaccinated and attend school, while the country’s minimum wage increased some sixty percent between 2002 and 2010 and currently stands at R$622 per month.

More people left the lower class than joined the upper class, the data indicated. Between 2002 and 2012, 21 percent of the population rose from the lower class to the middle class, while six percent rose from the middle class to the upper class.

The Minister of SAE, Moreira Franco, highlighted the importance of the growing middle class in boosting the slowing economy, as that socio-economic group accounts for 38 percent of the nation’s income and household consumption.

“Some 18 million jobs were created in the last decade, these formal jobs were associated with an minimum wage policy that gave real gains above inflation to Brazilians,” Franco told the press.

During the last decade the income of the middle class grew, on average, 3.5 percent per year, while the overall average income of Brazilian families grew 2.4 percent per year during the same period.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Update is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.


  1. Is there an error/typo here? The middle class wage starts at a level (BR$291) that is half of the minimum wage (BR$622)? If there is no error in the article then this makes no sense to me. What kind of a job pays ten Reals per day (300/mo)? The middle class should be near the median/average salary which I think is somewhere around BR$1200, no? The way the middle class is defined here still means “poor”. If a life necessity like a stove or refrigerator costs more than your monthly salary, then you are not middle class… or the term “middle class” means something completely different inside Brazil as it does outside in other countries.

    The headline of “50% Middle Class” just seems like political propaganda to me. It’s trying to exaggerate the perception of growth of Brazil’s economy.

  2. The Govt and the rich apparently brought everyone out of poverty in order to put the so called middle class into debt as a favor to the banks. Now you own a car and a stove and a fridge, but you’re paying it over the next 10 years. In Brazil, they highlight the monthly payment and put the ac tual price, which is always a rip off, in small letters. This is called selling the monthly payment, which is what put American’s in debt up to their eyeballs. Homes, cars, mortgages, household goods etc etc. The only ones benefiting are the banks, because like most other countries, they’re the only ones who have any real money. If being in debt means that you’re middle class, then yes, 50% of all Brazilians are indeed middle class. Unfortunately this never has a happy outcome

  3. Yes, the “Voices of the Middle Class” must be begging for a handout. BR$291 is not middle class. Perhaps the Minister of Strategic Affairs has a strategy to manipulate his data?

  4. I completely agree with Brad- you hit the nail on the head, mate. I live in an extremely poor part of Rio- this article says that the minimum amount to be middle class is R$291. My RENT, in a tiny house shared with 5 other people where the roof leaks is R$300 rent (and that is about average for the area). So, according to this article, if I couldn’t afford to pay rent every month, I could still be considered “middle class”… I can’t wait to tell the neighbors!!! :D


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