|The Mega-city in Latin America (UNU, 1996, 282 pages)|
|10. São Paulo: A growth process full of contradictions|
Thanks to industrial deconcentration, rising public-sector employment, the modernization of agriculture, and the introduction of the Development Programme for Intermediate Cities, the quality of life improved markedly in the interior of the state. Rates of infant mortality fell, more and more households were linked to the water and electricity networks, and the provision of hospital beds in smaller cities improved.
Indeed, by the 1980s, several indicators showed that the quality of life in the metropolitan area was worse than in the intermediate cities. In 1985, life expectancy was one year lower in Greater São Paulo and there was a vast difference in infant mortality rates: 31 babies out of every thousand died in the intermediate cities compared to 54 in the metropolitan area (Carvalho Ferreira, 1989). Literacy rates also showed marked differences; whereas 16 per cent could not read or write in the intermediate cities in 1982, the proportion in Greater São Paulo was 20 per cent.
The empirical evidence suggests that a process of "metropolitan involution" was operating. So many poor people moved to São Paulo that the city could not provide for them. The labour market became segmented between highly skilled and well-paid jobs and large numbers of unskilled and poorly remunerated activities. This was not a process of "urban ruralization," because recent migrants from the countryside did not cling on to their rural values and in any case many of the poor migrants came from urban areas. It was a sign that so-called urban civilization was extending its tentacles throughout Brazilian society; the problem was that the great economic metropolis could not cope.