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The HDI calculation takes into account the population’s life expectancy at birth, per capita monthly income, the levels of education of the adult population and access to education by children and young people. And this has improved substantially in practically all of Brazil, to a point where just 0.57% of municipalities are currently in the Very Low HDI bracket — i.e., 32 municipalities. In 1991, they represented 85.8%. In 2000, when Brazil fell within the Medium category, 2,328 municipalities were still in the Very Low range.
A UN Development Program (UNDP) Report measuring HDI points to the constant advances year after year of Brazil’s results in the Index, highlighting "reducing disparities between the North (N, NE) and South (S, SE, CO) and the marked improvement of the municipalities that had lower HDI positions."
The increase in life expectancy at birth, which went from 64.7 years in 1991 to 73.9 years in 2010 placed all the municipalities in the Medium, High or Very High Human Development brackets in terms of the longevity component. Between 2000 and 2010, 39% of municipalities grew higher than the national growth average, especially in the North and the Northeast.
Some 1,193 of the 1,704 municipalities in the Northeast, equivalent to 66% of the region, posted growth in the last decade that was higher than Brazil's growth. This evolution was a reflection of the decline in infant mortality and improved access to health services in the metropolitan areas of nine state capitals as well as improvements in small and medium cities in forest regions, agricultural backlands and the dry northeastern hinterlands.
Of the three components that make up the HDI, education made the biggest gains in Brazil between 1991 and 2010. Attendance of children and young people grew 156% and was largely responsible for this result, since the percentage of children aged 5 to 6 years attending school, which was 37.3% in 1991, jumped to 71.5% in 2000; it already passed 91% in 2010, similar to the classroom attendance of children 11-13 years, which went from 36.8% to nearly 84.9% in 2010. The fact that the percentage of the adult population with a grade school education went from 30.1% to 54.9% was also important for the evolution of Brazil’s HDI.
Between 2000 and 2010, 65% of Brazilian municipalities rose above the national average of the education sub-index. Despite gains in recent years, the North and Northeast regions still contain 90% of the municipalities rated in the Low and Very Low education brackets; more than 50% of the municipalities in the Medium and High brackets are located in the country’s Southeast and South regions.
If it is true there is still wide income inequality between the North and the South of Brazil, this gap has been decreasing year by year. The novelty is that in the Lula and Dilma governments, all social classes are earning more in all regions. The HDI formula takes into account income available to a family to ensure a standard of living with access to basic necessities like water, food and shelter. In this case, the per capita monthly income of Brazilians grew R$ 346.31 between 1991 and 2010. Between 2000 and 2010, 72% of Brazilian municipalities saw income growth higher than the national average.