Category Archives: Education

Tools to compare São Paulo to foreign metropolis

São Paulo has one of the best carbon footprints and great weather – but also the highest criminality and the worst entrepreneurial environment. This is how the Brazilian mega city is portrayed by Cities of Opportunity, a study just published by PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the biggest accountancy companies in the world. It compares the economic/social/cultural performance of 26 metropolis for 10 major indicators, from innovation to climate, from cost to livability. It is pretty useful for those moving or doing business in one of these urban centers, having to figure what opportunities and challenges they will have to face.

One of the coolest features of the project is Model your City. It allows you to pick the cities and 66 indicators of your choice to build a comparative chart. You can also download the whole document. It is pretty simple to read: the higher the number of points a city has for a certain indicator (between 1 and 26), the better.

São Paulo’s depiction is not exactly kind. In fact it is one of the bottom three, just above Johannesburg and Mumbai, with a little under half the points gathered by New York, that heads the list. Continue reading Tools to compare São Paulo to foreign metropolis

Shortcut to understand the Brazilian people

Darcy Ribeiro

Here is a master class on the History of Brazil and the genesis of its population: the documentary “O Povo Brasileiro” (The Brazilian People), based on the book of same name published by anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro in 1995. Subtitled in English, it offers a deep seven-hour approach of a complex topic and several cameo appearances by composers Chico Buarque and Tom Zé and literary critic Antônio Cândido, among many others.

Directed by Isa Grinspum, it is divided in chapters that deal with the influence of the natives (parts  1, 2 and 3),  Portuguese (parts  4, 5 and 6) and Africans (Part 7, 8 and 9). Plus a series of chapters about their interactions (Encontros e Desencontros – parts 10, 11 and 12), and regional specificities  (Brasil Crioulo – parts 13, 14 and 15; Brasil Sertanejo – parts 16, 17 and 18; Brasil Caipira – parts 19, 20 and 21; Brasil Sulino – parts 22, 23 and 24; Brasil Caboclo – parts 25, 26 and 27) and a conclusion (A Invenção do Brasil – parts 28, 29 and 30).

The story on how “O Povo Brasileiro” was written would certainly deserve another documentary. Darcy Ribeiro, an intellectual known for his lust for life and women, was a terminal cancer patient in 1995. He had lost one lung and his doctor told his family that he had a few days left to live. His reaction: he ran away from the hospital to hide at home, in the beach of Maricá, close to Rio de Janeiro, where he intended to finish his book – which he did in 45 days. He still survived for two more years. Surrounded by his many, many (female) admirers.

Where to find Brazilian academic studies

A few Brazilian repositories of scientifical papers are among the most complete in the world. One – Scientific Electronic Library Online (Scielo) – even ranks on top of the list in a recent international evaluation elaborated by the Cybermetrics Lab, research group that belongs to the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, the largest public research body in Spain. In this ranking, Scielo is ahead of repositories organized by reputed organizations, such as the university of Berkeley or French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).

Coordinated by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (Fapesp), Scielo offers contents in Portuguese, English and Spanish.

If you are interested in searching in other Brazilian academic data banks, try these other repositories highly ranked:

  • The Digital Library USP (Universidade de São Paulo)– beside the languages mentioned above, it has contents in French
  • BDJur (Biblioteca Digital Jurídica) – specialized in legal studies
  • IBICT (Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Teconologia)

Thanks for the tip, Luis Nassif.

Brazilian cities under the microscope

Downtown Veranópolis, in the Southern Rio Grande do Sul state

People don’t live in countries or states – they live in cities. Ultimately, it’s the local government, infrastructure and cultural services that define one’s quality of life. And quality of life in Brazilian cities is changing quickly, according to a study just released by IBGE (the main national statistics bureau). For the first time in ten years, IBGE raised information from 5,565 local governments to draw the profile the country’s municipalities.

Overall, they seem to be offering more sports and cultural opportunities, but they still have to improve their policies concerning the environment, minorities and human rights.

The report’s main conclusions:

  • Bookstores can be found in only 28% of Brazilian cities (it was 35.5% in 1999). Apparently, book sales remain similar, because readers prefer to acquire them through the internet or in supermarkets. Also, the number of video rental stores is getting smaller, after many years of growth. Today, they can be found in almost 70% of Brazilian cities, but they are losing their costumers to cable TV and the internet.

Continue reading Brazilian cities under the microscope

Millenium goals on the way

Brazil is well positioned to achieve the Millennium Goals – the eight development objectives that the United Nations member states are supposed to attain till 2015. The federal government just released the fourth annual report detailing the country’s progress and the results are definitely encouraging.

Among its main conclusions (to make this easier on your brain, green indicates good news;  orange, neutral. No item was fully bad, according to the report):

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Around 25.6% of the Brazilian population lived on less than $1 a day in 1990. The target for 2015 is 12.8%, but this number was down to 4.8% in 2008.

In 1996, 4.2% of the children were underweight. The target for 2015 is 2.1%, but the most recent statistics (2006) indicate that  hunger is now affecting 1.8% of this population.

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

  • Around 95% of the Brazilian kids between 7 and 14 years old are enrolled in schools.

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

  • For every 100 boys studying, there are 93.8 girls (in primary education) and 133.2 (in secondary education).

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

  • In 1990, there were 53.7 deaths of children under five per thousand babies born alive. In 2008, this number was down to 22.8. The 2015 target is 17.9.

Continue reading Millenium goals on the way

Brazilian women status today

Neither Giselle, nor destitute homeless. A new portrait of Brazilian women emerges from a series of studies released in the last few days. She studies and works hard, both at home and professionally, earns less than her male counterparts and has an increasing importance in the country’s economy.

According to Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (Ipea), a federal think-tank, the International Labour Organization and Serasa Experian consultants, Brazilian women:

  • Study more – 56.8% of 15 to 17-year-old girls were in school in 2008 (at the grades expected for their age), while only 44.4% of boys were studying. A similar proportion can be observed among young adults, according to Ipea : 15.7% of women and 11.8% men between 18 e 24 were in college two years ago.
  • Do most of the housework – Really, no surprise here. According to Ipea, women dedicate, in average, 23.9 weekly hours to cooking and cleaning their own houses, while men spend 9.7 hours on those chores.
  • A high percentage has bad jobs – In 2008, 42.1% of working women are paid either low or no salaries, or have informal jobs (no vacations, no job stability, no paid retirement). In contrast, only 26.2% of men work under those conditions. In fact, these numbers hide some good news. Things are getting a little better. In 1998, 48.3% of women and 31.2% of men had jobs this insecure. Continue reading Brazilian women status today

Brazil, 20 years from now

From the Chrystal Ball series:

The Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology released today a study that outlines how the country and the planet will (probably) evolve in the next 20 years. Produced by the Centro de Gestão e Estudos Estratégicos, the document offers a time line based on several sources. It is meant to help government plan its future strategies.

Part of its content is easily predictable, considering recent tendencies. But there are some surprises.

Among its main forecasts:


  • In four years, Brazil will go back to its tradition of successive commercial balance deficits
  • Brazilian Gross Domestic Product will be 925 billion dollars in 2015 (which means, less than our present GDP, around 1.6 trillion dollars. It is not very clear how Goldman Sachs, the original source of this information, came up with this number)
  • Brazil, the brand, will increase its value. The demand for products associated to the country’s cultural diversity will grow

Keep reading