Brazil’s Lesson for China: Do Not Ignore Inequality

Geoff Dyer writes on the Financial Times:

In the late 1960s and 1970s, when Brazil was a dictatorship and the economy booming, social policy was neglected. “Grow the cake now, divide it up later”, became the mantra. For the past 20 years, China has sometimes adopted a similar approach.

One of the less well-known features of China’s boom is the state’s withdrawal from providing health and education. Mao-era healthcare was far from perfect, but today most Chinese have no health insurance. In rural areas it is not hard to find a family bankrupted by medical bills. Schools are losing 1m children a year because parents cannot afford the fees. Given how often China is labelled a success and Latin America a failure, it is worth noting that in the past decade Brazil’s government has spent twice as much of its gross domestic product on health and education as communist China.

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