Andréa Novais

Andréa Novais

The Brazil Business


Social Classes in Brazil

Andréa Novais

Andréa Novais

The Brazil Business


The Brazilian society often relies on social classes when segmenting the demography of their population. This article will give you an introduction to how the concept of social classes works in Brazil.

Despite being considered an old fashioned social institution, social classes in Brazil originated in the early 50's, when the country experienced an economic boom that would last until late 70's.

Social classes have been a useful tool for strategist and marketers, a way to segment the 190 million people living in Brazil. The huge differences between rich and poor is the direct reason why social classes have such a relevance for segmenting demography in Brazil.


There are several different concepts of social classes in Brazil, but the one that is mostly adopted by the market classifies society as letters from A to E. This definition is based, overall, on the households gross monthly income, as it follows bellow:

  • Class A: above BRL 10.200
  • Class B: above BRL 5.100
  • Class C: above BRL 2.040
  • Class D: above BRL 1.020
  • Class E: below BRL 1.020

As the differences in cost of living is quickly increasing between the metropolitan and rural areas of Brazil, this demographic segmentation will translate into different purchasing power depending location of the household.

Educational Level

  • Classes A and B: usually composed by those who completed higher education. The younger generations of these classes tend to be fluent in several languages.
  • Class C: most people in this class have finished high school and there is also a significant quantity of people who completed higher education or at least have a technical level degree.
  • Class D: people who have not finished high school.
  • Classe E: people who have not finished elementary school and illiterate people.


The educational levels previously presented support the level of submission among the five different classes. This employment relationship is presented as:

  • Class A: composed by bankers, investors, business owners, major landowners and people with extraordinary skills for the industry they operate in.
  • Class B: composed by directors and managers, politicians, judges, justices, prosecutors, well graduated professors, doctors, well qualified engineers and lawyers, etc.
  • Class C: composed by those who provide services directly to the wealthier groups, such as teachers, managers, mechanics, electricians, nurses, etc.
  • Class D: composed by people who provide services to Class C, such as housemaids, bartenders, bricklayers, people who work for the civil construction companies, small stores sellers, low-paid drivers, etc.
  • Class E: composed by people who earn minimum salaries, such as cleaners, street sweepers, and also by unemployed people.

Geographic Location

In some regions there is a strong predominance of classes D and E, which is the case of North, Northeast and Central-West regions (with the exception of Brasília).

However, it is in the larger cities that social differences are most visible. A city like São Paulo, for example, has people from all five social classes. Sometimes this inequality can be observed in the same neighborhood, where an upscale building is located right next to a shantytown.

The same applies to Brasilia, Brazil's capital and one of the cities that, along with São Paulo, present the highest levels of inequality.

This inequality occurs due to an intense migration movement that results on a significant population increase, decreasing job opportunities and salaries.

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