Brazil Population Tops 200 Million as Middle Class Lives Longer

Brazil’s population will surpass 200 million this year for the first time, and will continue rising longer than previously estimated as members of the nation’s expanding middle class live longer than their parents.

The estimate comes from a report published today by the national statistics agency that shows the population will peak at 228.4 million in 2042 -- three years later than estimated in the previous study from 2008 -- before stabilizing at about 218 million in 2060.

As Brazilian women enter the workforce in larger numbers, they’re waiting longer to start families and giving birth to fewer children. The country’s fertility rate has declined sharply since the 1970s, when women on average had more than four children, to 1.77 births per woman currently, below the U.S. rate of two per woman in 2009. In 2034, the rate will fall to 1.5 and stay at that level through 2060, the study found.

At the same time, life expectancy has grown to an average 71.3 years for men and 78.5 years for women. By 2041, both men and women will be living beyond the age of 80, according to the study, which was based on census data

The central bank has regularly highlighted the economic benefits reaped from Brazil’s so-called demographic bonus, whereby more people enter the workforce each year than leave it, making it easier for governments and families to save. As the population ages, and greater access to medical care allows Brazilians to live as long as wealthier populations in Europe, the opposite takes place, as demands for health care and pensions strain budgets.

Brazil’s population will reach 201 million this year, the study found. In 2008, it was forecast to surpass 200 million in 2015.

Brazil is the fifth most populous country in the world, surpassed only by China, India, the U.S. and Indonesia.

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