Six of every ten children in Brazil live in poverty

Kids in poverty or deprived of one or more rights total 18 million

Published on 14/08/2018 - 18:55 By Mariana Tokarnia - Brasília

Six of every ten children in Brazil live in poverty, according to a study published today (Aug. 14) by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). These are children and adolescents up to 17 years old who are financially poor or deprived of one or more rights—among them education, information, water, sanitation, housing, and protection against child labor.

The survey was based on the 2015 National Household Sample Survey (Pnad) and shows that 18 million boys and girls—34.3 percent of the total—face financial poverty and are forced to live on less than a monthly $88.75 per capita in urban areas, and $69 in the field. Of these, 6 million—11.2 percent—are plagued by insufficient income only, whereas 12 million—23.1 percent—are denied one or more rights, in addition to being affected by the lack of adequate income.

In addition, 14 million boys and girls are not financially poor, but are deprived of one or more rights. Altogether, the two groups add up to 61 percent of children and adolescents in Brazil.

Many children are forced to live under precarious conditions in hill-side slums such as the above, in Rio de Janeiro. – NGO Viva Rio

“In order to understand poverty, one must go beyond income and consider whether girls and boys have their fundamental rights enforced,” Unicef representative in Brazil Florence Bauer says in the study.

“Including deprivation of rights as one of the sides of poverty is not common in traditional studies on the topic, but it is crucial to highlighting major problems that affect girls and boys and pose a risk to their well-being.”


Figures bring the country’s inequalities to light. Access to rights varies depending on where children and adolescent live and what race they are, among other factors. The percentage of girls and boys in rural areas with no rights enforced is twice as many as those in the city—87.5 percent against 41.6 percent. Black boys and girls show a rate of deprivation of rights of 58.3 percent. Among while children and adolescents, the proportion is no higher than 40 percent. The North and the Northeast present the highest rates—except for housing, where the Southeast surpasses the Northeast.

“The inequalities in the access to rights among blacks and whites are made clear in this study and are among the main aspects that should be considered when it comes to poverty reduction,” the text says, adding that, “public policies and programs for black children and adolescents should be devised more often and with more precision, with the necessary funds earmarked for the access to all services, especially in the North and the Northeast.”

In Brazil, among children living in poverty—whether as a result of lack of income or deprivation of rights—13.9 thousand have no access whatsoever to none of the six rights included in the study, the study also found. “They are outside the coverage of public policies,” the text argues.


The results show that, of the 61 percent of Brazilian children and adolescents living in poverty, 49.7 percent are denied one or more rights. Many are exposed to more than one deprivation at once. On average, they showed 1.7 deprivations. Girls and boys with just one deprivation total 14.7 million, those facing two add up to 7.3 million, and 4.5 million face three or more.

Unicef classify deprivation as intermediary when there is access, however limited or poor, to each right, and extreme when there is no access at all to any right.

Sanitation is the right of which the highest number of children and adolescents are deprived, which brings 13.3 million under intermediary or extreme deprivation; followed by education, with 8.8 million; water, 7.6 million; information, 6.8 million; and protection against child labor, 2.5 million.

Comparing data from 2005 and 2015, Unicef concludes that financial poverty in childhood and adolescence was reduced in Brazil over the last decade, “but the deprivation to which boys and girls are subject was not mitigated in the same proportion,” the study says.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Graça Adjuto / Nira Foster

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