Carla Beatriz De Paulo

Changes, Inequalities and Policymaking in Brazil

What do inequalities look like in different parts of the world, and what can governments, civil servants, and citizens do to eliminate them?

In the second episode of our ‘Inequalities’ mini-series, Carla Beatriz de Paulo – General Coordinator in the Ministry of Social Development in Brazil – tells us about what hides behind the rise of a ‘new middle class’ in her home country, where dependence on State social programs from lower income sectors do not seem to be decreasing.

Touching on racial, gender and social issues, Carla gives us an insight into the needs and limitations that the Brazilian population faces everyday, and tells us how academia and field work can come together to bring about solutions to an unequal playing field.

We spoke with Carla Beatriz de Paulo in Geneva during the conference: Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilisation, organised by The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).

The title of her presentation was:
Brazil’s economic upsurge in the 2000’s : The rise of a “new” middle class or the fragmentation of the working class?
Because of the economic upsurge in the 2000s, part of Brazil’s working class started accessing durable goods and private services that had been historically inaccessible to them. This was interpreted by segments of the government and academia as a shift in class structure, and thus seen as the rise of a “new” middle class in Brazil that was less dependent on public services. This would then allow the state to restrict its role to regulating private services and providing public services to the poorest. This study suggests that interpreting this income shift as the rise of a “new” middle class is not only incorrect, but also potentially harmful to social change, since it incites fragmentation and disengagement within the working class. Alternatively, it argues that those who bene ted from the income shift are a fragment of the working class and far more dependent on state social services than advocates of the new middle class thesis suggest. In order to better understand this phenomenon, this study seeks to investigate the level of access to health and education services of those in this income range. The results obtained through data analysis reveal the predominant use of public health and education services by “new” middle class in 2008 and 2013, respectively.

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