Demographic Responses to Economic Adjustment in Latin America

By G. Tapinos; A. Mason et al. | Go to book overview

8 Demographic Consequences of Structural Adjustment: The Case of Brazil

EDUARDO RIOS-NETO AND JOSÉ ALBERTO MAGNO DE CARVALHO


Introduction

The Brazilian economy has experienced numerous economic cycles during this century. These have occurred in the larger context of an expansionary secular trend marked by different phases of industrialization and economic development. Although the century has witnessed several periods of 'stabilization crises'--the slow- down of economic activity induced by anti-inflationary policies--it has been, on the whole, a century characterized by industrialization and economic development.

Although the interactions between population and the economy can be studied both in the short and in the long run, the short-term analysis pursued here has the advantage that the relations can be evaluated without ambiguity with respect to the possibility of reverse causality, something that cannot be controlled for in the long- term studies. One classical theoretical framework, well suited to the analysis of the impact of annual fluctuations in the vital rates, is the Malthusian model. This framework postulates a positive check whereby real wages and mortality are negatively associated, and a preventive check that implies a positive correlation between real wages and fertility. The Malthusian framework was first applied to the study of short-term fluctuations in pre-industrial Europe ( Lee 1981; Galloway 1985; 1986; 1988; and others). This chapter intends to apply the Malthusian framework to the study of short-term fluctuations in the contemporary reality of a developing country, in order to assess the demographic consequences of crises and structural adjustments in modern Brazil. In this contemporary context, other economic variables in addition to price fluctuations are included in the model, such as aggregate production and the unemployment rate.

An important confounding factor in assessing the impact on annual variations of demographic variables is the fact that several authors fail to distinguish trends from deviations around the trend. The demographic literature deals with short-term and cyclical fluctuations in at least three different contexts: the pre-industrial era, the demographic transition, and the post-transitional context where cyclical fluctuations such as the one found in the post-war baby boom are examined. In transitional

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the editorial assistance of Franklin Goza, and the technical support of Marcelo Pianetti, Bruno Golgher, Letícia Marteleto, and Felipe Pianetti. Antônio Marangoni kindly provided us with the vital registration data for São Paulo.

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