• Laura Gris

The granny from Ipanema

Jan 10th 2008 | RIO DE JANEIRO From The Economist print edition

So many more women on the beach than men

AS ONE observes the economical use of fabric to contain flesh as it wiggles from one posto to the next on Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema beach, thoughts turn immediately to demography. Like other countries where the population is ageing, Brazil has more women than men. But in Rio the imbalance is particularly marked: for every 100 females in the city there are only 86.4 males, according to IBGE, the national statistics agency. That is far lower than the 95 males per 100 females that is the average for Brazil’s big cities. What is going on? And does this explain the size of the bikinis?

The answer lies partly in three forces that have shaped Brazil over the past few decades. First, like the rest of the country, Rio has undergone an extraordinary transition in its birthrate. Although the Catholic church and the government discouraged contraception for decades, Brazilian women decided to have fewer babies. Many opted for sterilisation. One study suggests up to 40% of women aged 15-49 have been sterilised. “You find some families where three generations of women have been sterilised after childbirth,” says José de Carvalho, a demographer at the Federal University of Minas Gerais. <!– function ReadCookie(cookieName) { var theCookie=””+document.cookie; var ind=theCookie.indexOf(cookieName); if (ind==-1 || cookieName==””) return “”; var ind1=theCookie.indexOf(‘;’,ind); if (ind1==-1) ind1=theCookie.length; return unescape(theCookie.substring(ind+cookieName.length+1,ind1)); } // CC18658 document.write(”); // // –> dcmaxversion = 9 dcminversion = 6 Do On Error Resume Next plugin = (IsObject(CreateObject(“ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.” & dcmaxversion & “”))) If plugin = true Then Exit Do dcmaxversion = dcmaxversion – 1 Loop While dcmaxversion >= dcminversion <!– if ((!document.images && navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Mozilla/2.') >= 0) || navigator.userAgent.indexOf("WebTV") >= 0) { document.write('

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