The New Middle Class - Marcelo Neri

September, 2011


This book discusses the Brazilian middle class, its definition, evolution, profile, attitudes and durability. It describes the methodology that uses per capita household income derived from household surveys to determine economic classes. It gauges their respective aggregate trends and gauges individual income risks using longitudinal data. An income-based approach is only the beginning. This initial approach is integrated with subjective data to measure expectations and attitudes of different economic classes combined with a structural approach that takes into account the roles played by human, physical and social capital in the production factors, in terms of income generation and temporal allocation of resources. In all cases, income is the chosen numeraire by which all dimensions analyzed are projected. In the end of the book, all forms of measurement proposed – current income, consumption smoothing (permanent income), productive assets and subjective aspects – are combined to discuss the design of public policies aimed at the Brazilian middle classes.

"The book 'The New Middle Class: The bright side of the base of the pyramid', of Marcelo Neri, is essential reading to understand the profound social changes in Brazil in recent years. Neri's book shows that the groups that won the largest rent increases since 2003 were exactly those who before were marginalized: women, blacks, illiterates and the northeastern. Besides revealing what has changed in people's lives, with the rise of millions into the middle class, Neri reveals, through the future Happiness Index, that the brazilian people are who believe the most in a bright future."  - Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – President of Brazil – 2003 to 2010

"Marcelo Neri is a tireless, rigorous and creative scholar of social issues in Brazil. This book, about the emergence of a new middle class, will be obligatory reference for anyone interested in understanding what has been happening over the last 18 years. Rich in detail, written so nice and full of interesting examples and data, the text illuminates the discussion and helps to think of the future. The gains are impressive, but the work ahead is still enormous. Read this book and give a copy to your congressman and senator, it will help him a lot!" - Armínio Fraga - President of the Brazilian Central Bank - 1999 to 2003

"Marcelo Neri created a fascinating and central research agenda. His work captures the various dimensions of the changes in Brazilian society under both the good economic management and globalization, as the demographic and social dynamics of an enthusiastic country with its own possibilities. The picture of this happy society with their perspectives is composed in this book with verve and precision. It is an indispensable work for the good understanding of the always complex interactions between the economy and the social." - Gustavo Franco – President of the Brazilian Central Bank - 1997 to 1999

“.a study by the Getulio Vargas Professor Marcelo Neri Foundation, shows that from 2003 to May this year, about 40 million Brazilians came to the middle class ... it's like we raised for the middle class the entire people of Argentina.”  - President Dilma Rousseff

“ o Real, a população pobre diminuiu de 35% para 28% do total. A pobreza continuou caindo até atingir 18% em 2008, fruto do efeito acumulado de políticas sociais e econômicas.”... “Existe toda uma gama de classes médias às quais se soma o que vem sendo chamado sem muita precisão de “classe C” ou de nova classe média.” - Fernando Henrique Cardoso - President of Brazil - 1994 to 2002

"In the last decade, the progress made by the Brazilian people has inspired the world. More than half of this nation is now considered middle class. Millions out of poverty ..., hope is returning to places where fear have prevailed." - President of USA Barack Obama

The book was nominated for the 2012 Jabuti Award

Media impact on the work presented by the book

“According to Fundação Getulio Vargas ...Brazil, well known for its inequality, is now a middle class country. Professor Neri talks about the return to formal jobs.”  The Economist –  story “Half a Nation Strong” about the study from FGV

“This is like the fable of La Fontaine, about the working ant and the cicada singer. Brazil is now a country that is more ant than cicada.”  NewsweekWeathering the Storm

“We are respecting market laws.. and doing pretty active social policies.” - Washington Postfront story “In Brazil, the `middle path´ helps to expand the middle class”

“Bolsa Família has been much more efficient than the rise in the minimum wage” - New York Timesfront story “Amid global gloom Brazil brims with hope”

“After years of inequality, a new middle class flourishes, buying cars and cellphones”,  EL PAÍS

“A decade ago, Marcelo Neri thought it was laughable Brazil be included in the group of emerging economies BRICs: ‘BRICs sounded better than RICs’” - CNN

“Brazil x China: We are a democracy, we don’t destroy our environment that much, we are getting less unequal. Our growth quality is better than the one from China.”   BBC News

“Pelé, the biggest player of our economy, is the low-income citizen; where you expect poverty, you find people rising, living an ‘American dream’, or a ‘South-American dream’.” CNBC

“Effects from the minimum  wage, programs to reduce poverty, informality.. finally, there is no relevant social theme in the last 20 years that has not been approached by Marcelo” - Época Magazine“The 100 most influential Brazilians”

“Two years after the ‘Plano Real’ was implemented, Marcelo Neri was the first to prove the impact of the economic stability in the fall of poverty in Brazil… ‘Class C Ambassador’… There is no way to dissociate Marcelo Neri from this group… The first academic to show that this class has become predominant in the Brazilian society… as the C Class get empowered so does the prestige of their ‘discoverer’.” Veja Magazine - “Doutor Demografia” (“Doctor Demography”). Marcelo Neri elected one of the 50 most influential  “cariocas” .

“Marcelo Neri is keen to warn that he doesn’t support neither PSDB (social democrats),  nor PT (worker) parties… he assigns the promising moment of the Brazilian economy both to the heritage of Fernando Henrique Cardoso and to the faith propagated by Lula”  Estado de São Paulo in 2010

“Extreme poverty grew in the 1st year of Lula”  – Cover story from “O Globo” in 2004 -Flávia de Oliveira

“The Brazilian inequality in fall since the beginning of the decade has changed its direction with the worsening effects of the global economic crisis.”  Folha de São Paulo in 2009

“Marcelo Neri from FGV, the  greatest scholar of the ‘new middle class’ explains that the appointment reflects the positive and prospective sense of the one that realized the dream of improving life itself.”  - Merval Pereira – O Globo

Click here to see others interesting informations about the New Middle Class

Book Index

Part I – Overview

Brazil X BRICS
Brazilian Boom
Cities and Classes
Maps of Changes
About Ants and Cicadas
Year I A.C. (After Crisis)
Macro, Meso and Micro Movements
The Collective of Brazilian
The Brazilian Dream
Consistency Scenarios

Part II – Emerging Groups in Emerging Countries

Decoupling Growth: GDP X PNAD
The Convergence of Inequality
Latin Inequality: the “Biggest in the World”
The Mirror of Inequality
The Country of the Past
Does Money Buy Happiness?
The Country of the Future
Sustainable Inclusive Growth?

Part III – Measuring the New Middle Class

Concepts and Classes
Detailing the Income Criterion
Evolution of Economic Classes
The Little Big Decade
The Rearview Mirror and the Windscreen
Local Classes
Polarization, Middle Class and Distribution

Part IV – Is Social Mobility Sustainable?

Balance of Brazilian Wallets
Labor Ingredients
Class Markers
Consumers and Producers
Recent Dynamics
Chronicle of a Foretold Crisis
Micro-Dynamics of  Distribution
Class Mobility

Part V – Class C is…

Education is Class E in Brazil
Universities and You in Labor Market
Vocational Courses: Payoffs and Motivations
Formal Jobs: Reasons of Recent Expansion
Entrepreneurship: Problems and Perceptions
Comercialization and Access to Consumer Markets
Popular Productive Credit
Crediamigo (Microcredit)
Motives of Microinsurance
Financial Decisions along the Life Cycle

Part VI – Economics of Society

The Greatest Catholic Economy?
Drugs and the Elite
Becoming Black
Brazilian Immigrants in the USA
Mothers and Sons
Sex, Marriage and Economics

Part VII – Policies, Politicians and The Middle Path

The Middle Path
The Crisis Strikes Back
The State Strangles
The Second Real
Elections and “Expantions”
It is the Social, Comrade!
Classes Gradients
Policies for the New Middle Class


Get your copy now! (available only in portuguese)

The book "The New Middle Class" can be purchased at Saraiva bookstores and major bookstores in Brazil.

You can also make the purchase through Saraiva's site (click here) or read a paper that summarize and update the results of the book (click here)