Rio de Janeiro: Roughly 35 million Brazilians have climbed out of poverty over the last decade and 53 percent of the country's nearly 194 million people now belong to the middle class, according to an official study released Thursday.
The document, produced by the Presidential Office of Strategic Affairs, sets a per capita monthly income of 291 reais ($145) as the threshold for middle class status.
The category includes individuals making up to 1,019 reais ($510) per month.
If the current trend continues, the middle class, which constituted 38 percent of the population in 2002, will represent 57 percent of Brazilians by 2022, the report said.
The study's authors attributed the rapid expansion of the middle class to mainly positive economic results and the anti-inequality programmes of President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who governed from 2003-11.
And the growth of the middle class, which accounts for 38 percent of consumer spending, has in turn enabled Latin America's largest economy to better endure the global slowdown, Strategic Affairs Secretary Wellington Moreira Franco said.
"Brazil created around 18 million new jobs in the last decade. That gain in employment and the government policy of boosting the annual minimum wage by more than the inflation rate have contributed to the growth of consumption," he said.
While median annual household income increased by an average of 2.4 percent a year in inflation-adjusted terms over the 10-year period, middle-class families gained 3.5 percent annually, the study found.
First Published: Friday, September 21, 2012, 14:15