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The increase of the elderly population in Brazil: transformation of and consequences for society

Renato P. Veras, Luiz Roberto Ramos, Alexandre Kalache


The social and economic transformation which has been occurring in the life of the elderly, and the increase of the Brazilian population aged 60 years or over is discussed. The migration process (in 1940 the rural population was 68.8% and in 1980, 32.4%) and the intense urbanisation in major Brazilian cities has been particularly evident for the elderly population, or for those growing older in these cities. This new social organization had increased the problems of loneliness and poverty among the elderly. Furthermore, as a consequence of the loss of social status which has reduced their participation in contemporary society, the elderly have been loosing the emotional suport within their own families. Traditionally, older people are viewed as an integral part of the family and enjoy high esteem and prestige. There are factors which play an important role in the family changes - these factors are the decrease in the number of children, their dispersion owing to migration and urbanisation, and the increase in the number of divorces between couples. The relatively longer life span of women has brought unique consequences such as a decrease of income, an increase in the number of widows and a longer period of chronic disease, as well as the changing role of women and their participation in the labour force which further diminish the chances of family support. This paper also discusses certain aspects related to the issues of work, retirement and social expenditure (dependency ratio).


Demographic aging;Social change;Aged;Rural-urban migration;Family;Women;Retirement;Inactive population

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0034-89101987000300007

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