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December 04, 2008




Yes, the wages are small, but consider that many people live in households with extended families and most of the adults (or even teenage children) work and contribute to the income. This allows for some breathing room. Plus, services and goods are cheaper in favelas or outside of the Zona Sul (like açougues or sacolões). The housing market (both sales and rent) are skewed toward the rich, being that for a long time they were the only ones who could afford housing (housing loans were very limited until recently). This accounts in large measure for favelas, but a lot of people in favelas are renters and it is not necessarily cheap. I paid R$250 a month for a one-bedroom in Rocinha in 2000, and it was not a "gringo price", because it was my in-law´s godmother´s house. Good post to get perspective about prices and earnings.

Daily Rio Life

Wow I really need to shut down the hotel at my place... our electricity bill has recently been running more like R$350 - R$400 per month! Which seems oddly high considering that hot water runs on gas at my place... hmmm.... must be those AC's.

I'm also interested in how a person can feed two people on R$150 per month...



You're being FAR TOO generous with some of your prices and not so much with others. Either that, or prices are far different here in SP.

I wrote a post on prices for certain consumer goods in Brazil a while back, but more along the lines of prices of things here for things that are easy to come across for many consumers in the U.S. and average salaries in Brazil... don't know if you remember it...

Anyway, one thing both of us forgot to mention in our posts was TAXES and my friend who commented on my post reminded me of that.

But I do agree with you - I don't know how some people get by on minimum wages... never mind "um pai de família ganhando salario mínimo" in Brazil - those are my heros here. Not to mention, people in the south and southeast - states you listed minimum wages for, are privileged! My roommate is from Salvador, BA and says cost of living there is much higher than SP and salaries are much lower (and then people wonder why there are so many Baianos in the Southeast...). *sigh. We've got a long way to go.



i think that no family that survives with a minimum wage is going to have cable tv, washing machine and so on...
and of course most of the clothes, furniture that they have, they did not buy but received from someone who would throw it away...

when i was at school (catholic school) here in Belo Horizonte, we had a christmas project that we were supposed to go to a favela, visit all the houses, make a research of how many people lived in each house, how much they earned and what they needed (clothes, toys, food...)..then all the students of the school would donate what they needed..
in one of the houses that i visited, the lady had 8 kids (!!!!) and only her husband worked, because there was no place for her to leave the small kids (all 8 were between 1 and 9 years old - she had 2 pairs of twins!!)... until today i ask myself how they managed to feed all this kids with one minimum wage!!! but they did.. the kids were healthy running around


if you go to the northeast region (sertao nordestino) the situation is even worst!
families of 8 or more people "survive" with only $20 or $50 a month.
i've seen families cooking stone soup for dinner and that is the only food they use to have all the time.
we can blame the government but i think we shoulb blame specially the companies in big and small cities that do not want to pay a fair salary to their employees.
my parents live in ponta grossa/parana and in that city a new graduate engineer makes $500 a month.
the company where my father was working on just laid off experienced engineers to hire underpaid new graduated ones.
that is one of the reasons so many qualified professionals are living brazil.
lula has promissed to increase theminimun wage up to $1000 but i always though this is something impossible to be done.
the upper class needs "slaves" to work for them. Imagine if they had to pay at least $1000 to their cooker, or baby sitter, or cleaners, or drives, or.,. They will not agree even knowing that this amount means a lot to their employess but for themselves, is nothing compare to the bunch of money they acumulate.
i believe that a fair minimun wage would be around $2000.

Ray Adkins


The "Hard Truth" really is that living on minimum wage is tough for anyone anywhere!
I agree with you that your examples from Rio prices comparing with the minimum wages would not enable anybody to live decently however...
Let's take New York state's minimum wage for example: U$7.15 per hour, I just did a quick search "homestore.com" to find out the cheapest 1 bedroom apartment in New York city and came up with U$1,750.00 per month. I am sure we could find a better deal, but certainly far away from Manhattan and the main job hubs.
Long story, "Minimum Wage" reality is tough everywhere, maybe even worse in New York where the cost of living is really high, people adapt, either they get together with someone else to share expenses or they move far away from the city to better afford rent etc...
I am sure you will get better views in Rio for your money hands down...


... Hee! Okay, it was really endearingly (and amusingly) American to put basic cable in that list. It wouldn't be there, Rachel; the vast majority of Brazilians couldn't care less about cable TV, even if they can afford it (and many that do have it seldom watch it).

But yeah, the minimum wage thing is a serious issue. Have you ever seen the article in our Constitution that describes what the minimum wage is supposed to cover? It's laughable:

Art. 7º, IV: "salário mínimo , fixado em lei, nacionalmente unificado, capaz de atender a suas necessidades vitais básicas e às de sua família com moradia, alimentação, educação, saúde, lazer, vestuário, higiene, transporte e previdência social, com reajustes periódicos que lhe preservem o poder aquisitivo, sendo vedada sua vinculação para qualquer fim;"


Eduardo Sant'Anna

Agreeing with the comments about cable TV, two figures:

- not even 10% of brazilian household have cable/satellite/whatever "pay TV"

- around 95% of american households have cable!

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