Brazil Public Health and Welfare
Public Health and Welfare
The Ministry of Social Security, now separate from the Brazilian
health system as discussed above, carries out the conventional mandate
of ensuring old-age assistance. Until the 1940s, social security
was limited to private plans organized by employers
and employees. Over time, the components of the system became
increasingly integrated and controlled by the federal government.
More recently, health benefits and social security have become nearly
universal, no longer depending on formal employment and contributions.
Retirement and disability benefits are pegged to the official minimum
wage. They weigh so heavily on government spending that they are
one of the reasons the government resists raising the minimum wage
for the active work force. At the same time, the middle class considers
these benefits insufficient and, therefore, seeks private social
security plans or makes investments in real estate, given the instability
of financial markets in Brazil. The social security system will
face even greater challenges as the age structure of the population
changes, with a greater number of pensioners in relation to the
number of contributing workers.
Data as of April 1997