Why do Brazilians emigrate so infrequently?

by on April 17, 2011 at 5:34 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

It is a populous country, yet there are few major Brazilian communities in the United States.  Only parts of Massachusetts, Queens, and Newark, New Jersey come to mind.  The U.S. Census estimates about 250,000 Brazilians living in the United States, which is many fewer than come from El Salvador, namely about two million.  Why is there such a difference?  The Brazilian number may well be an undercount but unofficial estimates still lie well below those of El Salvador.

1. Could it be that Brazil is too much fun to leave?  Or too much fun to generate the norms of upward mobility which encourage poorer people to leave for greater ambition?  If you live on the beach in northeastern Brazil, what exactly do you aspire to?

2. Do inhabitants of large, populous countries face larger cultural costs in leaving and adjusting their perspective?

3. Has Brazil had so much construction (including Brasilia), in its fairly wealthy sectors, that internal migration is a good enough substitute for external migration?

4. Brazil has a particular history of viewing the United States as a rival; El Salvador does not.

5. It seems that most Brazilian emigrants are ashamed to admit that they are emigrating to the United States, instead they claim they are simply “passing through,” or something similar.

What other points are relevant?  Here is a study (pdf) of Brazilian migrants to Massachusetts.

Brazil also does not attract many (recent) migrants, even though in some sectors the economic opportunities are strong.  It could be that external migrants have to compete too strongly with internal migrants from the poorer regions of Brazil.

Leonardo Monasterio restates the initial question in Portuguese.

Morten April 17, 2011 at 5:52 am

Is there not a clue in your last sentence?

“Leonardo Monasterio restates the initial question in Portuguese.”

doctorpat April 17, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Good point. A spanish speaker will find life easier in the USA than a Portuguese speaker. Perhaps the immigration rates should be compared to Suriname or Guiana?

Irineu de Carvalho Filho April 20, 2011 at 7:02 am

If Brazil had the immigration rate of Guyana, there would be some 30 million Brazilians in the US…

Steve Sailer April 17, 2011 at 6:02 am

Another, even more populous country with relatively few emigrants is Indonesia. The Indonesian government long was frustrated at persuading more Javanese merely to emigrate to less densely populated islands within Indonesia,

Steve Sailer April 17, 2011 at 6:12 am

In The Great Stagnation, Tyler borrowed Ben Franklin’s crucial 1751 insight that Americans, on average, live better than Europeans because they have more land per person, and thus face lower land prices and enjoy higher wages. Like the U.S., Brazil has a whole lot of land. In recent years, Brazilians have done a pretty good job of exploiting their land’s agricultural capacity.

So, why leave?

Steve Sailer April 17, 2011 at 6:24 am

On the demand side, there isn’t a whole lot of demand for Brazilian immigrants in the rest of the world (other than as supermodels and soccer players) because most Brazilians don’t care all that much about education and don’t have a particularly strong work ethic. The idea of, say, working 14 hours per day owning a liquor store in South Central L.A. seemed like a good idea to a surprising number of South Koreans, but to very, very few Brazilians. The idea of working 14 hours per day as an intern in a Topeka hospital seems like a great idea to a lot of smart Indians, but smart, hardworking Brazilians don’t face all that much competition at home, so why leave?

Moreover, Brazil has its own technology/industrial center in the south (Embraer makes jetliners, for example), so bright, ambitious Brazilians can find work in their own country in their own language. If you want to live in a well-organized European-style city, a Brazilian can move to Curitiba or other places in the south of Brazil.

Finally, there’s the Rio factor. Does any city have a more spectacular setting? I recall sitting in a sidewalk cafe on the beach in Rio and looking four blocks inland where rock climbers were dangling 500 feet above traffic on a Yosemite-style cliff.

Carlos Pio April 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I like those tentative explanations!
Maybe someone should try to compare the social origins of immigrants in the US and see if average Brazilians differ in in that regard. My hunch is that they will tend to be better off than average Salvatorians, Mexicans and Cubans. If correct, would that explain the lazyness of Brazilian immigrants in the US?!?

Anna April 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm

It is analyses like these that show why Steve Sailer is a god.

He is the only public intellectual who can actually think interesting thoughts, because he’s not hemmed in by thoughtcrimes about making improper generalizations.

Hence unlike Tyler Cowen — who has a New York Times perch to protect, mind you! — Steve Sailer can think things like “most Brazilians don’t care all that much about education and don’t have a particularly strong work ethic.” without engaging in ritual self-flagellation. Not only can he think it, he can follow it through to its natural conclusions. And he has the guts to do it even when attacked by all the great and the good, from Podhoretz on the quasi-right to Media Matters on the left.

The funniest part is that Tyler Cowen and Matt Yglesias and the rest of the PC who make up our public “elite” would be happy saying something like “Brazilians know how to relax, unlike you uptight Americans who think life is work”. So it’s not so much that they deny the fact per se, just that they can only approach it in a certain way en route to a predictable destination.

dirk April 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Steve Sailer is not A god. He is the one and only God. We shall follow him blindly wherever he does lead us.

Ted April 17, 2011 at 6:45 am

I imagine it’s a lot harder to be an illegal immigrant from Brazil than one from El Salvador. Takes a lot more money, for one. There aren’t that many Chilean or Argentinian or Peruvian immigrants, either, and they don’t have the Portugese language bar. It would also seem that there’s a lot more internal opportunity available in Brazil.

Sbard April 17, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Chile and Argentina are both richer than Brazil (as measured by per capita GDP).

Matt April 17, 2011 at 7:20 am

Cobb County, GA has a large Brazillian community, especially around Delk road. From what I hear, one community in Brazil forged a community there that rotates in painters and other tradesmen. The flights from Atlanta and Miami to South America probably help forge the community, as many immigrants came on overstayed tourist visas.

My general view is that there has been more strife in Mexico and Central American countries over the years than Brazil, Chile or Argentina. Prospects are not as dim for most of the workers in those countries. There is also more logistical challenges in getting from Brazil to America than El Salvador to America. Whereas people in Central America can travel up through Mexico to America with relative ease, Brazillians have a far more difficult time doing that illegally. So even the destitute workers in Brazil don’t come to America just due to the logistical issues.

stoic April 17, 2011 at 7:34 am

Framingham, MA and Central Mass. in general has quite a few Brazilian immigrants. Maybe they are the spearhead before the invasion.

farmer April 17, 2011 at 8:00 am

-contra steve sailer above: i suspected the diaspora of footballers would make it EASIER for brazzies to leave. A salvi likely has a pretty good idea of the us writ large, but little idea of, say, iowa vs atlanta. The diaspora of brazzie strikers means a football fan could learn pretty well about any city that had a MLS team. America is less “unkown” to them because they have prominent brazilians scattered around the country in high-visibility postings. I suspected this gave brazzies a “familiarity aspect” with the US that salvis lacked.
-the underclass (service and contruction) of Cape Cod, Mass is almost entirely brazilians. Interestingly, for the Cape at least, they are almost exclusively from the state of belo horizonte. when we think of “brazilians” in america, it’s easy to imagine a cross-sample of brazil. For the cape, at least, this isn’t so. It’s almost entirely localized to one state.
-Brazzies are profoundly catholic. I suspect something holding them back from emmigrating was the lack of parish and ecclesiastical life in portuguese in the US. Once a critical mass arrives, tho (setting up paralel “catholic-in-portuguese” infrastructure) brazilians feel much more comfortable upon arrival. I think, in a nutshell, we are now there in new england. i, personally, expect this to be a “tipping point” moment

Matt April 17, 2011 at 8:44 am

It’s been a while, but i think Bishop Cronin learned Portuguese and and used to speak it sometimes in FR & NB. Not sure if there is a major dialect difference between “Potruguese” & Cape Verdean Portuguese and the Brazilian version.

World Cup in Framingham/Ashland used to be a blast, I miss the car parades.

Adam April 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Hi, Matt.

I’d not be suprised if these are two very different Portuguese variants. The common Brazilian does not understand even the European Portuguese well… and in Cape Verde some creole languages are spoken as well which would make the Portuguese from there even more changelling to understand to a Brazilian.

Manoel Galdino April 19, 2011 at 11:07 am

I have friends who are from Cape Verde, and it’s easier to understand them than portuguese people. As far as I understand, there isn’t that much variation between the langgues spoken in both countries.

Adam April 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm

As you can see, I did not know it. Thanks :)

JL April 17, 2011 at 9:41 am

I would think that Brazilians do not have to rely on expatriate footballers to tell them about the mysterious, far-flung USA. It’s much easier to just turn on the television and watch American shows and movies.

farmer April 17, 2011 at 11:42 am

i’m not trying to turn this into a culture-wars post, but i can’t think of anything that prepares people LESS for living in the US than “Desperate Housewives” or Paris Hilton “Reality TV Shows”

doctorpat April 17, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I study Fast and Furious movies myself.

JL April 18, 2011 at 11:06 am

“i can’t think of anything that prepares people LESS for living in the US than “Desperate Housewives” or Paris Hilton “Reality TV Shows”

I can: the lifestyles of millionaire athletes.

hibikir April 18, 2011 at 11:43 am

Those shows might not represent the typical American lifestyle, but they are far closer to the American psyche than most shows made outside of the US.

Instead of looking at those though, look at 80s and 90s sitcoms instead. They provide a far better approximation of the life of middle class Americans than you think. After coming to the US, I was surprised at how much people actually resembled what is shown on TV.

Adam April 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Hi, farmer!

Just a note: Belo Horizonte is not a state but a municipality – actually, the capital city of Minas Gerais state.

Now, I’d not bet the religion is such a big player in this issue. The common Brazilians are not very religious at all – they profess the Catholic faith but does not practice it a lot. Also, in recent years there is an overwhelming increase in the number of Protestant/Pentecostalist Brazilians. Usually they see the US as “a country under God” and a model for Brazil. I wonder if they’d do it better in the US.

johnz April 17, 2011 at 8:24 am

Brazillian women?

Badger April 17, 2011 at 8:38 am

Beyond some of the valid points made above:
(1) Brazilians are very sentimental people (think “soap”). Losing contact with family & friends is a much higher migration cost than it is in most other cultures.
(2) Uprooting is seen as an absolutely bad thing. Children used be taught in schools (and I suppose that this is yet the case) that internal migration is a bad thing, that it is the origin of many if not most of Brazilian social problems, from crime to urban overpopulation. Birthplace allegiance is oddly important to Brazilians.
(3) Brazilian culture is not meritocratic. Succeeding in a foreign country doesn’t prove that you’re capable and versatile, on the contrary, it proves that you’re disloyal to the homeland and an “opportunist.”
(4) On the economic incentives side, costs of emigration are high while benefits are low due to the lack of complementarity between Brazilian human capital and what is found in rich nations. Self-referential bellybutton mentality makes this lack of complementarity particularly intense.
(5) Brazilians have a “take it or leave it” approach to culture. It means that most Brazilians will not integrate to other cultures. But the ones that “leave it” will almost perfectly blend. Those are usually the ones that are very cosmopolitan, well educated and that have high work ethics, so for them emigrating is the only right thing to do. They will usually marry people that they meet in a developed country and try to forget Brazil. This is a well-known phenomenon among Brazilians: people that are frequently negatively portrayed by the Brazilian press and literature, snobs who betrayed their own roots.

FYI April 18, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Very good insights Badger. I am an immigrant from Brazil and I think points 3 and 5 are right on the mark. For point 5, I have brazilians friends who get very mad at me when I call myself an american – they even try to tease me and say that I am only a ‘cucaracha’ who is too full of himself. You got to understand that even though Brazil did have a large wave of immigrants during WW2, nowadays they are not a people who are very open to immigrants. They will call Asians ‘Japanese’ even if you are a 3rd generation of native born. So I guess they take that assumption into consideration when thinking about moving to another country – i.e., they don’t want to be the ‘Japanese’ of the US.

Regarding 3, I think they view the meritocracy in the US as a sign of greed. why work so hard if you can get by just by doing enough? after all, the beach is always there no matter how much money you make.

Manoel Galdino April 19, 2011 at 11:27 am

In Brazil I would say: quanta abobrinha…

Why would we try to emigrate to US in the first place? There is the whole world (Europe, Japan, Africa, Asia, Latin America, Canada etc.). Second, the US government doesn’t allow it in general, right? The question is about illegal immigration or legal immigration? Third, people are making arguments like “after all, the beach is always there no matter how much money you make”. Seriously? What about Montesquieu argument that our blood is too hot to work, since we live in the tropics?

Anyway, the exile is a strong theme in Brazil, since the 18th century. There is a looong tradition in Brazil about it and the exile during dicatorship is a recorrent theme in our music, films and speech in newspapers and alike (much less now, as these days are more and more far away).

Actually, I think we are much like Americans! I guess you americans emigrate much less than, say, english or japanese, is that right? And we are receiving a lot of immigrants and altough we have mixed feelings about them (some prejudice etc.) is that so different than, say, Europe now or americans against arab or latin people?

And last, not least, Brazil is so diverse that I don’t think you will find out the same answer all over the country. I see Brazilians saying things here that is so far from the true in some places (like São Paulo) and more near the true in other places (Rio de Janeiro), that it astonishes me that they generalize that much about Brazil. I’m from northeastern (Alagoas, Maceió) and what some said about receiving immigrants is so wrong, in many ways, that i’ll just pass.

World Brazil April 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Badger, you are the one who gae the most plausible explanations. You seem to know well Brazilians’ state of mind (and perhaps the country too). This (the lack of knwledge on the part of americans) is in general a significant obstacle to understand Brazilians better and therefore accept their culture and way fo life better .

Despite all its problems and deficient infrastructure, Brazil is the world for Brazilians. Outside, eventually there are better (economically speaking) opportunities, it is probably safer and the the cities are cleaner…les burocracy, more meritocracy (perhaps), but these goodes do ot make for what Brazilians have at home. It is not very complicated to undertand that, is it?

Ed April 17, 2011 at 8:48 am

Well I am in the process of sponsoring a Brazilian immigrant (my wife, who didn’t want to leave, plus nearly all her friends and family thought it was a bad idea), so I might have some insight on this. I agree with Tyler on #1, #2, and #3, and Steve Sailer makes a few good points.

Essentially, Brazil is a large continental country with lots of land and an improving economy. Right now, there may be more opportunity there in the US. Much of the country is poor, but Sao Paolo is an economic powerhouse and living standards in the three southernmost states are comparable to those in Europe or the US. For someone from the Northeast seeking a better life, there is no particular reason to go to Europe or the US as opposed to the three southernmost states.

Plus there is not much of a diaspora to make things easier in the country you are moving to (the existence of people already in the country who can speak your language and help you get a job is a huge factor in immigration), and there are other Portuguese speaking countries in the world but none of them are places you would want to immigrate to. I think that people from large continental countries have to become particularly well adjusted to how things work in that country and find it more difficult to transfer to other countries. I also think Americans will find this to be the case, if the economy here continues to struggle and there is more interest in emigration.

Incidentally, my experience has been that the DHS and the State Department seem to be especially tuned in to the dangers of mass Brazilian economic immigration to the U.S., more than seems to be the case for some nearby Latin American countries.

johnz April 17, 2011 at 8:53 am

don’t over-analyze it. It’s the incredibly hot women.

Hyena April 17, 2011 at 9:01 am

“Too much fun to leave” makes me wonder if there’s truth to that as a general theory. Do third world countries which are popular vacation destinations have relatively little emigration?

londenio April 17, 2011 at 9:02 am

Maybe the post should have been titled “Why do Salvadorians emigrate so frequently?”. 250,000 is not a small number.

Mr. Econtarian April 17, 2011 at 9:17 am

El Salvador had a horrific civil war, which lead to a tremendous exodus from the country. Once in the US, few wanted to go back, and many became legalized by Reagan’s amnesty.

OneEyedMan April 17, 2011 at 9:27 am

The American immigration is extremely biased based on old paths of migration. There were national-origin quotas in place until 1965 and since then they have encouraged family migration where current family members can pull in others. This gives a lot of hysteresis to the countries of origin of American immigration.

Bill Harshaw April 17, 2011 at 9:43 am

How about ease of travel? I assume Brazilians have to emigrate by ship or plane? I assume Salvadorans can emigrate by truck, bus, car, and rail? Which is cheaper?

Jim April 17, 2011 at 9:46 am

They are dirt poor, they speak a language that no one else speaks, and unlike several other nearby countries they’ve never had refugee status that gives them a wide open door to the USA.

“Too much fun to leave?” Seriously? That’s the first thing you come up with?

World Brazil April 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Brazilians are still poor, true.
However I tend to observe the most biased and basically distorted views on Brazil and Brazilians emitted by those who never set their foot in the country and yet make conclusions about it and its peopple, etc…This lamentable.

johnz April 17, 2011 at 9:54 am

“Too much fun to leave?

yes. there is such a thing. I wish you knew it tooo

farmer April 17, 2011 at 10:36 am

jim- in my location and line of work i frequently encounter brazilian expatriots. A very, very common refrain i hear is “here in the US, you know how to make money. but back in brazil, we know how to LIVE”. It is said unironically and without sarcasm. 100% of the brazilians i encounter return to visit as frequently as they can manage and generally see life in the US as a form of banishment. immigrants i encounter from other nations (which includes the Republic of Ireland, there are still many irish immigrants in new england) return far, far less than brazilians. Quality of life is not readily dicountable

jk April 17, 2011 at 10:43 am

They definitely are not going to Portugal.

DK April 17, 2011 at 10:51 am

Other than a small problem of language (Spanish-speaking have easier time adjusting in the USA than Portuguese), there is nothing special about Brazil. There are similarly few immigrants from Argentina and Chile. Large enough country that are doing sufficiently well economically don’t produce many citizens wanting to leave.

Nathan W April 17, 2011 at 10:55 am

Aside from language (the US already had a large Spanish-speaking community), I’m not sure than the Brazil-El Salvador comparison is very instructive. I’m sure we all remember that a violent war was fought in El Salvador in living memory. Ongoing social problems continue to make it appealing for many to leave.

I’ve never visited Brazil, and honestly don’t have a strong basis of perception because Brazilians are also highly under-represented among people I’ve met (blurred visions of youth hostel bars largely come to mind here). But I have the impression that Brazil is generally a country full of hope for a brilliant future.

Discussions last summer with someone who was fairly involved in covering the Salvadorian conflict, and who is still connected to that community, lead me to believe that Salvadorians do not carry such similar high hopes for the future of their country.

John Bragg April 17, 2011 at 11:03 am

One major factor in immigration is “pioneering immigrants”, immigrants who establish a beachhead in the host culture and blaze a trail for others. Pioneers who succeed then bring over brothers, cousins, friends from the hometown. Brazil hasn’t had many. Probably because, as suggested above, ambitious Brazilians have plenty of places in Brazil to “immigrate” to without facing a language and culture barrier and without raising questions of loyalty.

Second major factor is the presence or absence of a “culture of immigration.” Psychologically, in some countries immigration is a normal thing to do, in some it’s not. If you don’t know anyone in your extended family or friend network who ever emigrated, it’s less likely to occur to you as an option. Egypt is twice as big as Algeria, but Algeria has a tradition of immigration and Egypt simply doesn’t.

E. Barandiaran April 17, 2011 at 11:09 am

Tyler, a majority of your scientific readers appear to agree that the main pull factor explaining the Brazilians’ preference for staying home is this
http://www.google.com/search?q=Beach+Volleyball&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&prmd=ivnsu&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=iwCrTfPYDIXKgQfT9NzzBQ&ved=0CDQQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=686

BTW, I’ve been surprised by your column in today’s NYT. Hope you write a post on it so we can discuss it.

DK April 17, 2011 at 12:58 pm

In that article Cowen avoids making any concrete predictions and offers no specific proposals. Like a wise fortune-teller, he can never be wrong.

Miguel April 17, 2011 at 11:37 am

My reasons were mainly because of lack of human Rights and respect among the people. Social unequality is huge and people cannot have the same background, which turns impossible to socialise in all spheres. Besides that, I cannot live in a country that threatens me all the time due to the ethinic group I belong to, which is black. It’s simply awful to be black in Brazil, even if you are middle class.

dirk April 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Having spent a lot of time in Brazil, my question is: why don’t more Americans emigrate to Brazil?

dirk April 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm

As they say in Brazil:

Brazil is the country of the future — and always will be!

E. Barandiaran April 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm

This time is different!

Snizz April 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I assume there must be some level of migration to Brazil from the rest of Spanish-speaking South and Central America. Is this the case? How are they treated there as opposed to the USA? Are there Spanish-speaking communities there?

Adam April 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Hi, Snizz!

Apparently there is great communities of Bolivians and Paraguayans in Brazil. They are not really well treated, I should confess – I know there is such communities mainly due the news reporting slavery-like labor.

Darren April 17, 2011 at 12:43 pm

So what implication does this have for labor market rigidities or economics in general? Most commenters in here seem more than willing to acknowledge the importance of sociocultural incentives but these are basically entirely absent from academic formulations of economics. Can we come up with a immigration model based on economic incentives that matches the pattern here?

ElamBend April 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I think the existence of a frontier and the souther states (i.e. migration centers) is a major factor. I think there is something to the ‘fun’ angle too. (Florida and California are US examples, especially Florida, cheap and warm and pretty laze faire about lifestyle).

@Miguel, your story jibes with what I’ve heard about Brazil. I tend to think of Brazil as a melting pot similar to the US (we’ve got our problems, too sure), but in reality from everything I’ve seen and heard, social and racial spheres are much more rigid in Brazil. A good question would by, why is there no more black Brazilian migration to the US. IIRC, initial Mexican migration to the US several decades ago was much more middle class and the poorer groups (i.e. Indians from the pueblo) followed much later. Perhaps the answer is there: means.

Peter April 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm

They definitely are not going to Portugal

Quite the opposite: an increasing number of people are leaving economically stagnant Portugal and moving to Brazil. Angola and Mozambique are also attracting Portuguese emigres.
http://demographymatters.blogspot.com/2011/04/on-portuguese-predicament.html

TGGP April 17, 2011 at 7:31 pm

That surprised me since I believe both Angola & Mozambique had some fairly bloody conflicts gaining independence from Portugal, and then subsequent civil wars sponsored by cold war rivals. Good for them getting to the stage where people want to move there.

Peter April 18, 2011 at 12:38 am

Angola is a major oil producer and has many opportunities for skilled foreign workers. Mozambique doesn’t have oil, but compared to many other countries in the area is relatively peaceful.

B April 17, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Southern California has become the new center of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The World Championships (Mundials) have been held in Long Beach for at least five years now. Same for the Pan American Championships. Many many of the best Brazilian competitors move here and open their own schools.

Liye Zhang April 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Most of the theories are trivially proven wrong, or at least sorely lacking. For 2, China is a very large and populous nation, and yet the Chinese American community is large. The same can be said of India. 3 and 4 suffer from the same problem – Shanghai and Shenzhen are also massive construction centers, and yet the flow of the Chinese outwards have not slowed. China, of course, have been seen as a rival to the US in both China and the US.

5 suffers from the circular reasoning problem.

Fabio Franco April 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Born in Rio, I came over to the States when I was 8. I graduated from the U of I with a Finance degree and worked for a while at the First National Bank of Chicago. But in my early twenties I knew I had to get the hell outta the US. I didn’t know why, exactly — all I knew was that I had to get back to Brazil. I’m still trying to figure out why this was such a necessity, but maybe I’ll try to spell out something right here, right now, and this will help me understand a bit more.

Basically, there is something missing here in the States, something Americans don’t have and Brazilians do. What is it? I’m not sure — it’s really hard to get a handle on this. Perhaps it is ineffable. And it is a very touchy subject, very delicate. When I talk about it with my American friends — some of whom I’ve known for more than thirty years — they get offended. It has something to do with being fully human. I believe Americans are incapable of the humanity, this certain type of humanity that I’m talking about. We may speak of “human warmth”, but there are no English words for it, because Americans have not had the experience and thus the appropriate vocabulary has not emerged.

Here are a few words in Portuguese: “carinho”, “dengo”, “chamego”, “cafuné”. They are all terms of endearment but which are not translatable into English — you must just go to Brazil, live for a while there, have the experience, and then you’ll understand, from within. This is what I did and I thank God that I did, for I have acquired a certain type of humanity — a far richer, deeper humanness — which would be missing from my life if I hadn’t gone back. Americans will never understand this, unless they go to Brazil and live there for a while.

There is a wonderful book I just finished reading — really one of the most beautiful books any American has ever written about Brazil: “Don’t Blame it on Rio — The Real Deal Why Men Go To Brazil for Sex”, by Jewel Woods. The author does a good job of letting (black) men speak for themselves about their experiences in Brazil, why they go there for the sex but go back for the “love”. It is one of the best books I have ever read which explains why I myself had to go back to Brazil and it probably explains a lot why Brazilians don’t emigrate en masse to the US — because they sense that they would lose something if they did: they would be losing a big chunk of their own humanity.

JonF April 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm

re: It has something to do with being fully human.

I can see why your freinds get insulted, because that is insulting.

Why not just say “You Americans aren’t as fun”. As others have noted that seems to be closer to the truth. We’re no longer a bunch of Puritans, but we are still awfully uptight about a lot of things.

hibikir April 18, 2011 at 11:58 am

First, I agree with you in the fact that it sounds insulting, even if the OP doesn’t try to be. However, I see where he is coming from.

It’s not about fun, but about closeness and human relationships. The anglo world has very little closeness, especially compared to how Brazil works. Compared to some other cultures, people often feel distant and cold. This is especially glaring in male-male friendships.

It’s not an issue of better or worse, necessarily, but of a very different ruleset for human relations.

World Brazil April 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Brazilians have no intention whatsoever of offending any culture or people. The “human warth” (calor humano) or closeness is something that must be experienced individually. One either feels/understands what is or or keeps on guessing what it would be like. There is no way to put it in words. I learend that each culture, each people is on their won right. Everybody is human in their own way of being. Our task is to understand and accept these differences. What Fabio Franco writes is out of personal experience. No one needs to take offence. But understanding is a good first step to the acceptance of the other.

FYI April 18, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Oh yeah, that is because Brazil is a very ‘humane’ country right?

Brazil is a violent, dirty and poor country. The US opens its doors to people like you and all you have to say is that americans are not ‘fully human”?

Your american friends get insulted because you are an ungrateful idiot.

Ernest April 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I forget the name of the town in Florida but illegal Brazilian immigrants took it over and let the Anglos know, in no uncertain terms, that they were NOT welcome.
Lots of Brazilians in USA, most ILLEGALLY, more than author knows.

JonF April 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Never heard of that (it sounds like a urban legend), but it is true that S. Florida has a lot of Brazilian immigrants.

Ernest April 18, 2011 at 11:01 am

I read it in a South Florida newspaper at the time, however I cannot recall the town’s name, it was a smaller town not some metropolis.

Immigration is not a great thing, just 2 cases I came across, glad I saved these or you would call them urban legends:
J.C. Penney clerk charged with dressing room rape
Boston Herald
By Edward Mason | Wednesday, November 25, 2009
A sales clerk at a J.C. Penney department store in Sturbridge has been arrested and charged with raping a boy in a dressing room, police said.

Francisco Wellington Barros-Gomes, 26, of Charlton, was charged with indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and rape of a child with force, according to Sturbridge police. He was arraigned today in Dudley District Court and ordered held on $25,000 bail.

Police arrested Barros-Gomes after they responded to a report of an assault at the Sturbridge store around 6 p.m. yesterday.

Barros-Gomes is a Brazillian immigrant who is here legally as a resident-alien, police said.

Suspect identified in kidnapping case that ended on Mass Pike
December 9, 2009 02:29 PM
By John R. Ellement and Kathleen Burge, Globe Staff

An 18-year-old Peabody woman who had allegedly been kidnapped used her cellphone to help State Police locate her and used her memory of the kidnapper’s unusual name to help police track him down.

Willian Vieira, 21, was arrested in a Natick apartment complex around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

The local media largely buried the immigrant dimension of this story.

Missing Girl’s Body Found Near Conn. Religious Site – 1010WINS.com
Mug photo released by the Waterbury, Conn. police of Francisco Cruz
Posted: Sunday, 18 July 2010 1:33PM

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — A 19-year-old man was charged Sunday with raping and killing a 16-year-old friend whose body was found near a closed and run-down religious attraction in Waterbury.

Francisco Cruz faces charges including capital felony, murder and sexual assault in the death of Chloe Ottman. Her body was found near Holy Land USA on Saturday, a day after her family reported her missing.

Waterbury Republican American
Monday, July 19, 2010 3:09 PM EDT
Court documents indicate murder suspect mutilated teenager
Francisco Cruz, 19, held on $5 million bond
WATERBURY – Although she fiercly fought for her life, 16-year-old Chloe Ottman succumbed to the force of Francisco Cruz’ hands around her neck, according to court documents made public Monday.

Cruz, 19, of 17 Hickory St., was charged Sunday with capital felony murder in connection to Ottman’s homicide. Her body was found Saturday near the base of the Holy Land cross.

“I am raping a girl If I let her live, I’m going to jail for a long time I gotta kill her,” Cruz told police in a statement a prosecutor described as “chilling.”

Here is one, however, from 2002 that never got on mainstream TV news or national newspapers, the media bosses figured you didn’t need to know about this cost of DIVERSITY:
In Danbury, Connecticut, on May 24, 2002 12-year-old Christina Long a Catholic schoolgirl was raped/murdered. Christina, a bright, pretty sixth-grader, was lured to a shopping mall in Danbury by 25-year-old Saul Dos Reis, an illegal alien from Brazil. Dos Reis had sex with the blonde, blue-eyed little White girl in his car, then killed her and threw her corpse into a nearby creek.

All of these criminals came from Brazil.
All urban legends you know

World Brazil April 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm

just a curiosity: for you ALL Braziliand are criminals then ? (based on the news you selected, copied and pasted here). If a bunch of greedy Americans white colloars in Wall St bankrupted the world economy, mostly the US economy, so can I figure that all Americans are greedy fat cats? Watch out this dangeorus stereotyping and racist profiling based on criminal notes you’ve read in some newspaper of a small town in Florida…Brazilians are not the only criminals in the world to commit these kind of crimes, are they? (why then there are TV series CSI Miami-N.Y. Las Vegas, Criminal Minds, Law& Order, etc, etc…

Pedro April 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I agree with the points made above, specially those related to culture, the size of the country and how tough it is (logistically) to get to the US.

But I think we have a big data problem here. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil estimates 3 million Brazilians abroad (1,5% of the population). A large parte of those go to Europe, where emmigration is easily since a VISA is not needed. I don’t think language is that much of a problem: it is well known there’s a very very big Brazilian community living in London. Brazilian communities are also large in Portugal, Spain and Italy. By the way, 2009 official estimates are of 1,3 million Brazilian in the US – not 250 thousand. (http://www.brasembdoha.com.qa/files/Materia_de_imprensa_Brasileiros_no_exterior.pdf)

Millian April 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Steve Sailer sez that those Hispanic immigants are coming over here and lazily taking your jobs. Damn Hispanic immigants with their lack of a work ethic.

John Ronka April 17, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I agree. Since the welfare dependency of hispanics is many times that of native-born Whites, this is a real problem.

I’m not sure what the solution is. The lack of a work ethic is not something that is going to be turned around overnight, as it is so deeply ingrained.

Abelard Lindsey April 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm

An immigrant from Romania told me that no one emigrates unless they have to. Brazil seems to have a decent enough economy and an easy tropical life-style that few people are motivated to leave. Same with Indonesia. Although living standards in Indonesia are low, they are high enough and the tropical weather easy enough to live in that no one is motivated to leave either.

sm April 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

One of my Brazilian colleagues in graduate school told me, “You are so lucky you have never been to Brazil. You’ve never known true happiness so you don’t know what you’re missing.”

It echoes what Fabio said — “there are no English words for [human warmth], because Americans have not had the experience and thus the appropriate vocabulary has not emerged” — interestingly enough they were both U of I students, so this may reflect more on the lifestyle quality here in Champaign-Urbana rather than on Brazil itself. :)

mulp April 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Did the CIA run and train death squads in Brazil like in El Salvador to suppress pro-democracy movements which were seeking to overthrow dictators and military juntas?

Lots of people have come to the US to escape political oppression, and then operated from the US to aid those left behind. Those targeted by authoritarian regimes will be the most accomplished, especially if they get to the US, so they will be the best at creating ties between their refuge communities in the US and those seeking to escape oppression and deprivation back home.

And it is in the DNA of America to provide a haven for those seeking to escape political and economic oppression.

Miguel Madeira April 19, 2011 at 6:43 am

“Did the CIA run and train death squads in Brazil like in El Salvador to suppress pro-democracy movements which were seeking to overthrow dictators and military juntas?”

Yes.

Irineu de Carvalho Filho April 20, 2011 at 7:13 am

Probably not. But can’t be sure

James Rogers April 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm

My mother is Brazilian and immigrated to the United States when she was in her 20s. Out of the eight children in her family, she and only one sister have come to the U.S., whiIe the other six siblings have stayed in Brazil. Having also lived in Brazil myself as adult, from my anecdotal perspective I see several reasons (most of which have already been touched on):

1. Internal migration. The big cities of the state of Sao Paulo are inundated with immigrants from the Northeast of Brazil. It is far easier to migrate within your own country (and thus avoid the necessity of learning another language).

2. Opportunities are available for the ambitious. My mother’s family was relatively poor when she was a child (even living in a dirt-floored house for a while). Even though Brazil’s growth has been inconsistent over the last 40 years, the general trend has been upward over that time. For those who are ambitious and smart, there are good opportunities for a prosperous life in Brazil. In spite of their humble background, all of my mom’s siblings are solidly middle class and enjoy good lives in Brazil. I don’t think any of my Brazilian aunts and uncles or cousins would ever consider leaving — they have everything they need there.

3. Sentimentality: Brazilians are much more openly affectionate and devoted to their relationships with friends and family than most Americans and they would see the separation as a huge drawback.

4. Patriotism and national pride. Brazilians are proud of their country, its potential for greatness, and its achievements (just ask a Brazilian who invented the airplane — they will vehemently deny that it was the Wright brothers, but instead insist that it was a Brazilian named Santos Dumont). They don’t want to leave and give up something to which they feel so much attachment and pride.

5. I also agree with the points about Brazil being a large continental country with a growing economy and growing opportunity. Also, the lack of a Brazilian diaspora is a good point as well. In the places where there is an established Brazilian community — Massachusetts (which has its roots in early-20th century Portuguese cod fisherman who immigrated there first), New Jersey, and Miami — there are plenty of new Brazilian immigrants.

An interesting sidenote about immigration from Brazil to the United States: there was even a 2005 Brazilian novela (daily nighttime serialized TV show) which was set in Florida and dramatized the plight of immigrants in Brazil. The novela was called “América.” Even though the novela portrayed a generally negative view of illegal immigration and of life in the United States, illegal immigration from Brazil to the United States temporarily skyrocketed as a result of the novela. Perhaps the lack of immigration is because of a lack of general knowledge about potential options to immigrate?

I disagree with some of the points above about Brazil not being meritocratic or having norms of upward mobility. There are plenty of Brazilians over the last few decades who have moved into the middle class, many middle classe Brazilian adults are the first generation in their families to get a university degree.

I also disagree with the point made about Catholicism by another commenter. That would not be an issue at all to any of the Brazilians I know. Brazil is experiencing a huge boom in the growth or Protestantism, and most Brazilians, while nominally Catholic, are not strongly devoted to the Catholic church (most Brazilians who claim to be Catholic are actually quite syncretic in their beliefs — I was always surprised, for example, at the number of Catholic Brazilians who told me they believe in reincarnation).

Matt April 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Many good points above, especially wrt cultural and family ties. I’ll add:

Remittances are relatively difficult, and essentially must be done on the black market, and Brazilians (rightly) have some trust issues on this point. This may explain why there are some areas of intensely concentrated emigration (c.f. Governador Valadares, MG).

I know a number of college-educated Brazilian emigrants. Some love it, others just want to go back. Difference seems to be whether or not they were of an income level at which they were able to hire full time domestic help in Brazil. Upper middle class Brazilian women value nannies very highly.

Finally, anti-Americanism is very prevalent among Brazilians, especially among elites.

World Brazil April 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm

No really Matt. I think that thewhole thing resumes to an almost absolute lack of proper knowledge on Brazil.

I’ve been told that the linkage with Governador Valadares in particular has much to do with an American firm or company previously located in that city (around the the 40s from what Iremember). It seems (need confirmation) that when the company or firm closed (or something like that) and returned to US some knid of bond with the city remained and specifically locals wre the first in the sate to immigrate to US and the first wave was foloed up by many others and so on…

About hiring women to do doemstic tasks…this is becoming rare and very expensive! Domestic servants are almost extinct in the way you put it. The new generation is not very much inclined to do the work, unless they are well paid and have thir rights granted, at least in the larger cities. In the countryside this habit still persits, but not for very long.

Elites are not anti-America per se. Misinformed people are!!! Everywhere in the world!

dirk April 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Because of this thread I’m now in an argument with my Brazilian friends — who are immigrants — over who invented the airplane. Thanks a lot.

Manoel Galdino April 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

Look, Santos Dummont and the Wright brother’s invented the plane almost at the same time (2 or 3 year of difference in favor of Wright). Santos Dummont didn’t claimed a patent because he said, like Newton, that he standnd in shoulders of giants. Btw, he was the first man to flight in a airplane in Europe (France, Paris). So, let’s settle and agree that both invented the plane.

Tractor April 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Maybe they’re afraid of a nude negro law that might be passed in Florida and then spread to other parts of the country.

agnostic April 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Brazilian girls.

Males are more likely to migrate, since they tend to range over a wider territory normally, are less daunted by trailblazing, and are more likely to find low-skill or semi-skilled hard labor. They’re also going to be younger, since that will make the transition easier — more time to adjust, not so set in their ways, greater ambition, and they have stronger hands and backs.

Girls weigh heavily on the mind of a young male. So, look at the opportunity cost to young males from different countries, concerning girls. The 20 year-old Brazilian guy is giving up a 17 year-old Brazilian cutie who doesn’t hold back her affection and enjoys pleasing her man. Not that he couldn’t do OK with girls in America, but still not as good as he’d have it back home.

In contrast, the 20 year-old Mexican guy is giving up a barrel-shaped woman with Amerindian facial features, more designed to be a housewife who runs a tight ship than to be a pleasing lover and a childlike capturer of your heart. By migrating to America, the Mexican guy won’t be able to date white girls, but our Mexicans look better than the ones in Mexico because of better health, etc. So, regarding girls, he enjoys a boost rather than a cost by migrating. Same with Central American males generally.

Christine April 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm

I am Brazilian, never lived abroad, nor do I intend to.

If you want to have a clue on the matter, read the lyrics of the Brazilian National Athem, e. g.:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_National_Anthem

Than the most elegant land abroad,
thy smiling, pretty prairies have more flowers
“Our meadows have more life”,
“our life” in thy bosom “more love”. (*)

(*) The passages in quotation marks were extracted from Gonçalves Dias’ poem Exile Song (Canção do Exílio).

If you really want an exact answer, maybe you’d have to live here for some years. Brazil has some well-known problems, but it’s getting better. I regard it as one of the best places to live in the world. There are many good options (places) and opportunities to choose from, a great climate, beautiful lands, huge number of paradisiacal beaches, warmth people. Why leave all that and choose instead the “cold” — be it in terms of places or people?

Proud of being Brazilian? Yes, we are proud of the best of what we have and are, and those issues which we are not very proud are being worked out. It takes time. Brazilians do not generally think that what they have are worthy to exchange for what is offered abroad. To travel abroad, yes; to live abroad, not so evident.

Steve Sailer April 17, 2011 at 5:36 pm

In summary, these comments have made the point about Brazil that Ben Franklin noted in 1751 in regard to America: Brazilians seem to be happy having relatively underpopulated country. So, why are so many economists today hellbent on taking away from Americans their traditional privilege of living in a relatively underpopulated country?

dirk April 17, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Rio and Sao Paulo sure don’t feel underpopulated.

Pedro Coderch April 21, 2011 at 5:05 am

Because, even though you might be willing to make the sacrifice of paying 8-10 times more for your produce and restaurant food so as to have a less populated country, 99.99%+ of the American middle class is not. Hence, immigrants allow middle class Americans to enjoy a much higher standard of living than they would otherwise without immigrants and the problems caused by mass immigration, such as increased crime and medicare bills, either don’t affect them(crime) or are evenly distributed in the form of taxes that are payed by all including and mostly the rich, so the middle class doesen’t care.and is very happy with this. I hope I have answered this query of yours so that you don’t have to ask it again.

Dutch reader April 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm

In Surinam (also an ex-colony of the Netherlands) there are significant numbers of Brazilians, who by now comprise 10 per cent of the population. The Brazilians are mainly active in gold prospecting/mining. There have been several violent outbursts against Brazilians (including the rape of some 20 Brazilian women by locals).

As for Indonesians, they may not be too eager to participate in some of the government-sponsored migration projects, which often involves heavy labour clearing forests in areas that are not particularly attractive, but there is lots of spontaneous migration to areas that are already densely populated.
Also, there is significant labour out-migration from a number of areas, particularily to neighbouring Malaysia (where there have been several backlashes and attempts to oust large numbers of illegal Indonesian workers) and Singapore. Indonesians form a significant part of labour in construction in those countries, and Indonesian women often migrate to become domestic servants abroad, particularly to Singapore and Saudi Arabia.

PT April 17, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Steve Sailer:
“So, why are so many economists today hellbent on taking away from Americans their traditional privilege of living in a relatively underpopulated country?”

I think these economists are interested in having American’s live in a “Melting Pot” so that Western European Cultural values are marginalized. Since America already has approximately 200 million White Christians they need a huge influx of non-whites to immigrate to the U.S. They initially began accomplishing this through the 1965 Immigration Act and it’s Family Reunification goals. They then provided the intellectual reasoning for the 1986 Amnesty. They also provide the intellectually reasoning for the H-1B Visa and L1 Visa’s which are dominated by Asians and Indians.

While they have worked on marginalizing U.S. Western Cultural values through mass immigration from the Mid East, Asia, Mexico, and Africa they have also supplied the intellectual reasoning that has started to rot the U.S. from the inside out such as saying Huge National Debt to China is necessary and not a big problem (see Paul Krugman, etc.), trade deficits are OK (see Larry Kudlow for a typical viewpoint), Affirmative Action is necessary, Community Reinvestment Act to diversify neighborhoods, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act to provide data used to help diversify neighborhoods, Usury is an economic necessity (How usury became a Western Culture Value is beyond my ability to understand), How Pro-Usury, Pro-Amnesty, Pro-NeoCon Ronald Reagan is ever mentioned in the same breath as a patriot such as Thomas Jefferson is obscene.

Basically though the Economists are winning. Future historians probably won’t even consider the United States to still be a country in 2011 but rather that we ended being a nation around 1965. Right now we are in the middle of our spiraling decling caused by NeoCons and Anti-Western Culture Liberals and we don’t even realize it.

dirk April 17, 2011 at 7:36 pm

It’s interesting how the growth rate of the US has been fairly constant throughout history. It’s almost as if some iron law were enforcing the growth rate, whether it be through birth or immigration. Other countries seem to have had constant, albeit different, growth rates too.

Mitchell Young April 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Well, path dependency is part of the answer. A solid majority of legal immigrants are allowed to settle due to nepotism (aka ‘family reunification’). Unless some exogenous factor starts an immigrant stream, the numbers from any particular country will remain small. However, if some factor encourages emigration to the US, then the stream widens and widens due to chain migration (legal) and illegal immigration assisted by ethnic networks. For example, who ever heard of Somali immigrants before our ill-fated intervention in that country? But having intervened, we allowed refugees from that country (aside from our mere presence encouraging thought about the US as a place to go). That stream was quickly eclipsed by chain migration from a country where kin ties are strong and people have large families. Another example is the difference between emigration patterns from the Philippines and Indonesia. We colonized the PI, and allowed in ‘migrant’ workers during colonization. That got the foothold started, foothold two was the large number of Sailors/GI’s that married their bar girl friends, thus allowing migration from uncles, aunts, parents etc. Finally until the 1990s the US Navy actually recruited in the PI, yet another stream which was widened via our nepotistic policy. Indonesia, of course, being left largely alone by Uncle Sugar, had none of this going on, and thus has little immigration to the US.

The take home from all this is how crazily arbitrary, or arbitrarily crazy, US immigration policy is. Millions of Eastern Europeans would love to come to the US, and their migration would allow total immigration to more resemble the US’s actual demographics. But the Poles and Ukranians and Moldovans — who live in countries poorer than Mexico — are frozen out by our nepotistic policies.

dirk April 17, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I agree with your comment.

Steve Sailer April 18, 2011 at 1:33 am

The Grand Strategy of our elites:

- Invade the World
- Invite the World
- In Hock to the World

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