Social Protection, Economic Growth and Social Change
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Social Protection, Economic Growth and Social Change

Goals, Issues and Trajectories in China, India, Brazil and South Africa

Edited by James Midgley and David Piachaud

This highly original and thought-provoking book examines the recent expansion of social protection in China, India, Brazil and South Africa – four countries experiencing rapid economic growth and social change.
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Chapter 9: The Brazilian social protection system: history and present configuration

Maria Paula Gomes dos Santos


The aim of this chapter is to describe briefly the evolution of the Brazilian social protection system. Taking into consideration that social protection policies in any country determine and are determined by economic structures and political conflicts (Esping-Andersen, 1990), this chapter will emphasize the country’s main economic and political inflections that shaped policy decisions on social protection throughout the last century. It will also comment on the outcomes generated by these decisions on the country’s current social conditions, and on the challenges it still faces. As in many Latin-American countries, Brazil first instituted a Bismarkian model of social security in the 1920s, along with the country’s industrialization and urbanization. From a collection of private pension schemes, covering only a few categories of urban workers, the system was expanded and nationalized in the 1930s, though still restricted to the labour force in urban economic activities. Throughout the twentieth century, coverage continued to grow, especially in the 1970s during the military regime when the country experienced an ‘economic miracle’ and the number of formal jobs escalated.

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