China and Brazil: Transitioning from the Middle-Income Trap to Sustainable Development? A Sociological Perspective on Consumption, Inequality and the Middle-Income TrapMariana Hase Ueta 1Erick Tjong 2Niklas Werner Weins 3Augusto Frederico Junqueira Schmidt41PhD candidate at the University of Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil. Master's Degree in Chinese Society andPublic Policy from Fudan University, Shanghai, China and Bachelor's Degree in Social Sciences from theUniversity of Campinas. Contact: [email protected]2Co-author of the World BankDoing Businessreport. Dual Degree Master's in European and Asian relationsfrom Sciences Po Paris, France and Fudan University, China, Bachelor degree in international relations from theUniversity of São Paulo. Contact: [email protected]3Master's student at the Federal University of Technology, Curitiba, Brazil in the Post-Graduate Program inTechnology and Society, Bachelor's in Economics and Politics of East Asia from Ruhr University, Bochum,Germany,TongjiUniversity,Shanghai,ChinaandUAMMexicoCity,Mexico.Contact:[email protected]4Bachelor’s student in Civil Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Curitiba, Brazil and at theCollege of Civil Engineering at Tongji University, Shanghai, China. Contact: [email protected]
Abstract China and Brazil, as emerging countries, share many challenges and opportunities fordevelopment. However, despite their similarities in terms of territorial dimension and incomelevel, it is necessary to consider the specificities of each context to address the needs forsustainable development. Brazil is considered a typical case of an economy stuck in theMiddle-Income Trap (Canuto, 2014). The country’s difficulties to move up the value chainand its extreme income inequality have a negative impact on economic growth and pose aserious threat for sustainable development (World Bank, 2004; Piketty, 2017). China, afterdecades of rising living standards and wealth generation, also has to deal with the increasingproblem of inequality (Chen, 2013). On this matter, China could learn from the Brazilianexperience to avoid the threat of falling into the Middle-Income Trap (Woo, 2016). Recently,both countries have been investing in domestic consumption as a way to prevent an economicslowdown (Dreger & Zhang, 2014). The present research carries out a comparative analysison the policies adopted by each government to stimulate consumption and on their impacts ongrowth and income distribution. The expansion of consumption not only brings economicconsequences, but it is also associated with environmental, resource-related and social justiceissues. It is imperative to establish a dialogue between China and Brazil on the different pathsfor development, as both countries can learn from each other's experiences. The importanceof learning and choosing the right paths cannot be overstated, as they will not only impacttheir own citizens, but will have global repercussions.