Time 24 News (EUA)

Social inequality makes it even harder to fight covid-19

Publicado em 17 abril 2020

Por José Tadeu Arantes | Agência FAPESP

In a complex megalopolis like São Paulo, with enormous economic, social and cultural inequalities, the definition of action strategies and the effectiveness of measures to combat the covid-19 pandemic are a formidable challenge.

The differences that distinguish social groups in a city of more than 12 million inhabitants are evident in the study “The urban-demographic patterns of the São Paulo capital”, produced by Marcelo Nery, Altay de Souza and Sérgio Adorno.

The research, which was supported by Fapesp, was carried out within the scope of the Center for the Study of Violence at the University of São Paulo (NEV-USP), one of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (Cepids) financed by the Foundation.

“Facing the pandemic in São Paulo is extremely challenging due to the heterogeneity. There is not a single cut, between center and periphery or between rich and poor, but a much more complex situation ”, says Adorno to Agência Fapesp. Full professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences at USP, he is the scientific coordinator of NEV-USP.

Adorno cites as an example the high concentration of people in precarious housing (read more at “As much as confinement is necessary, it is very difficult for it to be strictly carried out in urban groups where low-income and educated workers predominate, and a high demographic density per room of residence, which makes social isolation difficult. In addition, most people spend the day in activities outside the home, which intensifies interpersonal contact. A large number of informal workers depend on going out on a daily basis to support themselves. The pandemic dramatically highlights all the scandalous social inequality in the country, ”he says.

Distinct urban groupings

The article published by Adorno and other researchers is part of a great survey longitudinal (research method that analyzes the evolution of the same variables in the same groups of individuals over a long period of time) started in 2013.

The research identified eight urban groupings, very different from each other, that were constituted along the historical process of urbanization and expansion of the city. “They are not urban groupings defined by a precise spatial profile, but by 19 economic, social and cultural variables, submitted to factor analysis”, explains Adorno.

To identify this mosaic that makes up the city, the study took into account housing, population and health and hygiene data from the last four censuses of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) (1980, 1991, 2000 and 2010), research origin destination of the 2007 São Paulo Metro, information from the São Paulo city hall and the São Paulo Metropolitan Planning Company (Emplasa) to compose a set of 19 indicators on environmental, housing, sanitary and hygiene conditions, urban mobility, standards crimes, population profile, housing data, among others.

The analysis of these data revealed a São Paulo divided into eight groups. Group A is concentrated in the central area of ​​the city – including the regions of Avenida Paulista and Engenheiro Luís Carlos Berrini, for example -, has good levels of sanitary and hygiene conditions, has the highest variation of permanent private homes and the highest proportion of verticalization, with a high proportion of literate (99.3%) and high-income (8.6%) heads of household and various sectors with no record of intentional homicides.

Irregular urbanization

Group B, also located in the central region, is similar to group A in terms of sanitary and hygiene conditions and permanent private households, but has a higher proportion of improvised households, low demographic density and a higher proportion of the young male population.

With a reduced number of subnormal agglomerates (irregular occupations) and good sanitary and hygiene conditions, group C also stands out for the large proportion of literate (98.9%) and high-income (5.5%) heads of families. Group D, on the other hand, has a low verticalization index, low proportion of households with sanitary facilities and less adequate infrastructure, compared to groups A, B and C.

Group E is characterized by subnormal agglomerations (25.5%), improvised households and a lower rate of heads of households with high income. The analyzes indicate that the group is among the hardest hit by migrations and demand for housing in the 1950s, registering road saturation and the formation of slums and slums.

At the extreme limits of the city, in a watershed protection zone and in risk areas, the research identifies group F, with a low relative variation in population growth and permanent private households.

Group G is the result of disordered urbanization and the slum process, characterized as a particularly vulnerable area, marked by housing insecurity and poor quality of public services.

In the “fringes of Serra da Cantareira”, in the suburbs of São Paulo, the research identified group H, installed in a risk area, with the worst rates of water, sewage and garbage collection, high homicide rate and agricultural activity consolidated.

Heterogeneous space

“The analyzes described in this work clearly highlight the fact that the urban space is heterogeneous”, say the authors, stressing that the center-periphery dichotomy is unable to explain the social, economic diversity and uses of the urban fabric of the city of Sao Paulo.

They conclude that the “identification of the set of urban standards is a strategy for research and interventions” and underline that these standards “can form the basis of a public administration better based on the structure of the municipality, thus promoting better based public policies and effective ”.

“The State is lagging behind the social dynamics. Even in São Paulo, the most developed city in the country, the political-administrative division does not correspond to the real city. And it benefits some to the detriment of others ”, concludes Adorno.