Bras. Political Sci. Rev.2015;9(3):21-41.

The Elusive New Middle Class in Brazil

Celia Lessa Kerstenetzky, Christiane Uchôa, Nelson do Valle Silva

DOI: 10.1590/1981-38212015000300018

Against the background of the generalized reduction of poverty in the world, and particularly in Brazil, this article intends to gauge the socio-economic profile of Brazilian households that emerged from poverty and have been identified as integrating a “new middle class”. Using indicators of standards of living from the 2008-2009 Survey on Family Budgets (POF/IBGE), we found out that, in contrast to what has been assumed on the basis of average income criteria, this social stratum is markedly heterogeneous, most of it being similar in their consumption patterns to the economically vulnerable or outright poor strata. So, we conclude that, from a sociological perspective that demands additional conditions besides income levels to identify social classes, it is a category mistake to call this social stratum a new middle class. We conjecture that this may be consequential in terms of policy priorities and choices.

The Elusive New Middle Class in Brazil