Population declaring itself “preto”(black) maintains growth in the country, points out latest study

passeata negras 17 11 2015 3 680x453
passeata negras 17 11 2015 3 680x453


Note from BW of Brazil: A figure I’ve kept my eye on for a number of years is the number of Brazilians who define themselves as “pretos” or “pretas” (see here and here), the masculine and feminine Portuguese terms for black. The latest study by Brazil’s statistics agency, the IBGE, now estimates that the população preta (black population) is at about 18 million, or about 8.6% of 207 million Brazilians. So, I know what you’re thinking. “How can Brazil have the second largest black population in the world, trailing only Nigeria when the nation doesn’t even have 20 million black people?” Well, there have been numerous articles on this blog that will clear this up for you (see here or here), but if you’re new to this, I’ll explain again. 

For Afro-Brazilian activists, the total of the população negra in Brazil is the combination of self-declared pretos (blacks) and pardos (brown/mixed). This is due to socio-economic statistics that show time and time again, that pretos and pardos are at a near identical disadvantage in comparison to the population defining itself as branco, meaning white. Thus, if you add 17.8 million pretos to 96.9 million pardos you come to the figure of 114.7 million, which equals about 55% of the Brazilian population. But within the pardo category, you have various concepts of what the term pardo means.

For some, it could define a person of African descent who considers him/herself to be negro (part of the black race) but does not have extremely dark skin. It could be a light-skinned person who knows they’re not quite white but doesn’t consider him/herself black. It could define a person who see him/herself as no one race but a mixture of at least two, or perhaps simply Brazilian. Pardo could also represent a person of indigenous-European or indigenous-African ancestry. Whereas, by adopting the term preto/preta, a person, being darker or lighter skinned, chooses to identify themselves as simply black, of which there are about 18 million with this figure consistently growing over the past decade. 


Population declaring itself black maintains growth in the country, IBGE points out


Between 2016 and 2017, 6% more declared themselves black, while those declaring themselves white decreased by 0.6%. Research also re-enforces the aging population.

By Daniel Silveira

In a year, the number of Brazilians declaring themselves black rose 6% to 17.8 million, according to a survey released Thursday by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). The survey reinforces the trend observed since 2015, when whites were no longer a majority in the country.

In the same period, between 2016 and 2017, the number of self-declared pardos (browns/mixed) rose 1% to 96.9 million, while the total number of brancos (whites) declined by 0.6% to 90.379 million.

“This tendency, of the fall of whites and increase of pretos and pardos, was observed in all the great regions of the country,” emphasized research manager Maria Lúcia Vieira.

A 38ª Caminhada da Consciência Negra saiu do Campo Grande para o Pelourinho

In 2017, the population in Brazil was estimated at 207.1 million people, 4.2% higher than in 2012, when it totaled 198.7 million. Last year, 90.4 million people or 43.6% of the total declared themselves branca (white), while the preta (black) population was 8.6% (17.85 million) and parda (brown) people accounted for 46.8% (96.95 million). Five years earlier, brancos accounted for 46.6% of the population, while pardos were 45.3% and pretos 7.4%.

While men accounted for 48.4% of the population or 100.12 million in 2017, women accounted for 51.6% or 106.7 million. Regarding gender, IBGE also did not identify any relevant change in these participations between 2012 and 2017.

Compared with the data for 2012, the beginning of the historical series of the research, the total of self-declared blacks and browns increased, respectively, 21.8% and 7.7%, while that of whites decreased by 2.4%

Woman in demonstration for the valorization of Afro-Brazilian aesthetics (Photo: Reproduction / RBS TV)

“This movement has so much to do with color affirmation policies that motivate people to recognize themselves with a certain color or race, as it can have influence even in quota policies,” said Maria Lúcia.

Race miscegenation, explains the IBGE researcher, would not suffice to justify the change. “Miscegenation would explain the increase in the brown population, not in the self-declaration of the cor preta (color black),” she emphasized. Between 2015 and 2016, the Brazilian population increased by 0.8%, to around 207 million people, according to IBGE.

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Geographical differences

The research shows that the highest proportion of self-declared blacks is in the Northeast (10.5% of the population), followed by the Southeast (9.3%). The lowest percentage is in the South (4.2%). In the Midwest, self-declared blacks correspond to 8.2% of the population, and in the North, to 7.1%.

“Rio de Janeiro is the second state with the highest percentage of self-declared blacks, trailing only Bahia,” said the IBGE researcher.

Turned 2015

Until 2014, the self-declared white population was the majority in Brazil. It was in 2015 that this situation changed, when the majority of the Brazilians came to declare themselves pardo, meaning brown or mixed. In the South and Southeast, however, whites continued to be the majority in 2017 – respectively 75.6% and 51.2% of the population.

Ageing population

Portion of elderly people in the population is growing (Photo: Julim6 / Pixabay)

The IBGE research reinforced another trend that has already been observed in the country: the population is getting older. This is expressed by the increase in the proportion of people over 60 years of age against the reduction of the number of young people.

“This tendency of aging of the Brazilian population is a long, continuous movement. It has to do with improving health conditions and reducing the rate of fertilization,” explained IBGE researcher Maria Lúcia Vieira.

In 2012, the group of people aged 60 and over represented 12.8% of the population. Five years later, this percentage increased to 14.6%. Considering the contingent of the population in this age group, growth was 18.8%.

Already the percentage of children aged 0 to 9 years fell from 14.1% in 2012 to 12.9% in 2017. In the period, the contingent of people in this age group decreased by 3.6%.

Source: ExtraG1

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. Great article once again, keep it growing Brazil you all have the numbers to change some things.

  2. Brazilian black folks are a joke! The U.S blacks make up 13-14% of the population and that is higher than the 8.6% of blacks in Brazil. If Brazilian blacks don’t want to be considered black, then Brazil needs to stop saying that their country has the highest amount of blacks outside of Africa. Let the U.S. take that distinction of having the highest blacks outside of Africa because our numbers prove this and we blacks are happy to represent that!

    • you are indeed correct,,,,black brazillians are a complete joke,,,,,,i dont trust them, they are all self hating and love whites too damn much,,,,,especially the women,,,,it is very rare to find a black, mulatto or pardo/meztizo woman in brazil who will date a black man,,,there is no unity with black people or men in brazil at all,, it is a complete joke with black in brazil and for that specific reason i left…..it seems black people in brazil dont want to claim their blackness and if that is the case, usa has the largest number of blacks outside africa with 40000000….

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