Bacabal – socioeconomic background – unbalanced development in Brazil



Bacabal is located in Maranhão, one of Brazil’s 26 states. From 1980 to 2008, the population in Bacabal increased from 20,000 to about 90,000 inhabitants. The reason for this rapid increase in population is the rural exodus. In 1960, 55% of the population lived in the countryside, and in 2000, only 20%. This is mainly due to the fact that the large landowners promised themselves more profit from extensive livestock farming than from cultivation. They turned large areas into cattle pastures, driving farm workers, tenants and small farmers from their piece of land that had been cultivated for generations.

The climatic conditions for agriculture are also not favourable here. Bacabal is located in the transition area between the drought zones of the neighboring state of Piauí to the east and the tropical rainforests of the Amazon. The rainfall is roughly equivalent to that of the Federal Republic of Germany. With increasing distance from the sea, however, they are decreasing. Agriculture is increasingly suffering from a very fluctuating dry season due to intensity and duration. The blame is, among other things, that forests were cut down in order to be used as cattle pastures.


Value creation in Bacabal County

The campesinos stripped of their livelihoods are moving to cities like Bacabal in the vague hope of finding work there. But a glance at the graphic on the left shows that industrial production hardly matters in Bacabal County (5%!!!). The job offer here is woefully inadequate for local immigrants. The chance of getting a job with regulated income is almost hopeless. 


The Brazilian state of Maranhão

A major problem in Brazil is the uneven regional development of the country. Maranhão, about the size of Germany in terms of area, is one of the poorest regions in Latin America. A handicap is the distance of 2300 km (about Dortmund-Moscow) to the economic core area around São Paulo. This periphery certainly contributes to the fact that of the 47 poorest counties in Brazil, 21 are located in Maranhão. 50% does not have access to clean drinking water; 70% has no wastewater and waste disposal; Of 1000 infants, 63% die before reaching their first year of life; 60% of the population have to make do with less than 1 € per day. The per capita income is US $1616 (total Brazil = US $3400) Indicative of the level of development M. ‘ s is the high illiteracy rate of 59% of the population over 50.

The Southeast Region

The Southeast region, the industrial triangle around São Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro (the 4 states: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo) certainly has much better economic data. Despite the more differentiated supply on the labour market, the huge influx of ‘ landlocked hikers ‘ from all over Brazil has not been able to cope with this either. With its nearly 20 million. inhabitants for example, São Paulo is one of the 5 largest metropolises in the world.

Huge poverty areas (similar to those in Bacabal/see pictures on the left) are also forming in the south-east region on the outskirts of the city. Social exclusion, misery and unfair distribution of wealth and income claim their victims, especially among young people. Official data and statistics show that 47% of all unemployed are young people; Only 41% of all young people live in families whose monthly per capita income exceeds 80 €.

Typical of the whole of Brazil, therefore, is the uneven distribution of income: The 10% richest households have an income 70 times higher than the 10% poorest households. The current development model ensures that today there are millions of landlords and homeless people, workers without a regulated employment contract, unemployed, adolescent drug addicts …