A newly released report by Brazil’s Instituto Brasileiro de Geografía e Estadísticas (IBGE)—the state agency responsible for conducting the country’s census—found that the total number of Brazilians living in favelas has nearly doubled in the last five years to 11.4 million. The trend belies common perceptions that high GDP growth has alleviated widespread poverty in South America’s largest economy.
The report found that the 6,329 favelas nationwide in 2010 are home to approximately 6.0 percent of Brazil’s total population. Nearly half of the shantytowns are located in southeastern Brazil—a region responsible for generating the vast majority of the country’s total economic output.
Reducing poverty and increasing social inclusion in Brazil have been pillars of public policy over the course of the last three presidential administrations. From 1995 to 2005 federal social spending increased by 74 percent in real terms. The IBGE report confirms that despite progress, urban poverty persists even in Brazil’s biggest cities.
In addition, policies to combat violence in favelas through community policing initiatives and law enforcement operations are front-and-center in Brazil. These policies are seen as crucial to the success of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 summer Olympic Games.