Younger generations' dependence on the elderly in low-income Brazilian families


  • Rosa Maria Da Exaltação Coutrim teaches and does research at the Education Department of the Federal University of Ouro Preto (UFOP), Minas Gerais, Brazil, and is the coordinator of the Centre for Study of Society, the Family and School (NESFE) at UFOP. Her current research focuses on intergenerational exchange, the family and education. Email:


The labour market in developing countries such as Brazil has been characterised by an increase in the number of informal workers. There are several categories of informal workers, with large differences among them in terms of income. There are many jobs typical of poor people on city streets: vendors of small novelties (which, in most big cities nowadays, are confined to places for these vendors called camelódromos) such as car guards, popcorn vendors, and recycling material separators. We see elderly people together with young and middle-aged men and women who take care of their tents, boxes or even set goods to sell on the street on pieces of cloth. The latter are not registered with City Hall in Belo Horizonte, the state capital of Minas Gerais, where they are known as toreros. The subject of this study was the population of informal workers, such as vendors of small novelties on the streets, street peddlers (registered or not), recycling material separators, bootblacks and lottery ticket vendors in Belo Horizonte. The study concludes that the role of elderly informal workers is crucial in meeting extended families' basic needs.