Economy Looms Large Over Brazil’s Elections

Story Highlights

    • The majority (58%) see an improvement in living standards


    • One in three Brazilians struggles to afford food


    • 40% say it’s a good time to find a job


WASHINGTON, DC — With economic activity steadily recovering since the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment falling to its lowest level in almost seven years, and consumer prices finally falling, Brazil’s economic picture is looking much brighter when voters go to the polls this week walk.

The spate of recent good economic news could improve the odds for incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, who is currently trailing popular former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in most polls. However, Gallup polls in Brazil in late July and early August indicate a healthy dose of economic optimism and skepticism among voters. The good news may come too little, too late, for some Brazilians.

The majority of Brazilians are optimistic about their standard of living: The Brazilian economy started to recover in 2021 and continues to do so this year, with current growth forecast for 2022 at 2.7%. On the back of this growth, plus a new $7.6 billion bailout package to ease poor Brazilians’ inflation woes, a majority of Brazilian adults (58%) say their standard of living is improving, while 22% say it’s improving worse. These numbers have improved slightly from 2021 and are in line with sentiment in 2020.


During Bolsonaro’s first term, the majority of Brazilians were optimistic about their living standards, but importantly not anywhere near the same level as during da Silva’s entire presidency – which da Silva could potentially benefit from.

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One in three Brazilians struggles to afford food: After spending most of 2021 and much of 2022 in double digits, annual inflation fell to about 9% in August as transport, food and home prices began to fall.

Still, food prices remain high, reflected in 34% of Brazilians saying they have had difficulties affording groceries at times over the past year. Under Bolsonaro, more Brazilians have been unable to afford food at times in the past two years than at most times in the past 15 years.


Brazilians remain pessimistic about the job market: Although Brazil’s unemployment rate fell to 9.1% this summer – its lowest level in almost seven years – the majority of Brazilians (56%) still think it’s a bad time to look for a job where they live to find. Four out of ten Brazilians see it as a good time.


Overall, Brazilians remain pessimistic about job prospects, but they’re nowhere near as pessimistic as they were when Bolsonaro took office or compared to the years immediately following the country’s 2014 economic crisis.

Less than half see local economic conditions improving: The optimism Brazilians feel about their standard of living and other economic indicators may be fragile. While Brazilians feel their personal situation is improving, they are less optimistic about the development of their economy than they have been over the past two years. In fact, the 49% of Brazilians who see an improvement in local economic conditions are the same as in Bolsonaro’s first year in office.


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For full methodology and specific survey data, see Gallup Country Dataset Details.

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